- No. 7 Northwestern is a 1.5-point favorite over No. 10 Boise State in an NCAA Tournament West Region first-round game on Thursday night in Orlando
- Boise State is 0-8 all-time in March Madness
- See the Boise State vs Northwestern odds and picks
No. 10 Boise State will again look for its first-ever NCAA Tournament win when it faces No. 7 Northwestern in West Region first-round game at 7:35 p.m. ET Thursday at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento.
Boise State (24-9, 16-14-2 ATS) is 0-8 all-time in March Madness after losing to Memphis in last year’s first round. The Broncos have lost three of their last five games this season, including dropping a 72-62 decision to Utah State in Mountain West Conference Tournament semifinals.
Northwestern (21-11, 19-13 ATS) has lost four its last five games, including falling to Penn State 67-65 in overtime in the semifinals of the Big Ten Conference Tournament.
The game will be televised by truTV.
Boise State vs Northwestern Odds
|Boise State||+105||+1.5 (-110)||Over 127.5 (-110)|
|Northwestern||-120||-1.5 (-110)||Under 127.5 (-110)|
Northwestern is a 1.5-point favorite over Boise State and a -120 choice on the moneyline in the college basketball odds, giving it a 56.9% implied win probability. The winner advances to the second round of the March Madness bracket to play either UCLA (29-5) or UNC Asheville (27-7).
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Defense Key for Boise State
Defense is Boise State’s strength as it ranks 34th in the country in points allowed (64.3), 35th in three-point defense (30.9%) and 43rd in overall field goal defense (41.3%).
Boise State forced Utah State into 15 turnovers in the Mountain West tourney but still lost after squandering a 36-28 halftime lead. The Broncos were also outrebounded 39-30.
Boise State has a balanced offensive attack with five players scoring in double figures: sophomore forward Tyson Degenhart (14.3), senior guard Max Rice (13.9), senior guard Marcus Shaver Jr. (13.5), junior guard Chibuzo Ago (11.5) and senior forward Naje Smith (10.1).
Shaver is having a fine all-round season as he is also averaging 6.1 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals a game.
#BoiseState G Marcus Shaver, Jr. received Third Team All-Mountain West honors today.
13.3 PTS | 5.9 REB | 3.8 AST | 1.7 STL
He was 1 of 15 players in the NCAA to average 13.0+ PTS, 5.0+ REB, 3.0+ AST and 1.5+ STL this season. pic.twitter.com/0Cl1dtfnjY
— Jay Tust (@KTVBSportsGuy) March 7, 2023
Degenhart’s 53.7 field goal percentage is second in the conference, and he has a 5.4 rebound average. Smith is pulling down 5.5 boards a game.
Rice is the son of Boise State coach Leon Rice.
In the loss to Utah State, Shaver and Smith had 14 points each. Shaver also added eight rebounds and three assists while Degenhart finished with 13 points.
Northwestern Led by Guard Duo
Northwestern is in the NCAAs for the just the second time in school history. The other appearance was in 2017 and the Wildcats then had five straight losing seasons before this year.
The senior guard duo of Boo Buie and Chase Audige lead Northwestern. Buie is averaging 17.1 points and 4.5 assists a game and Audige is scoring 13.8 points and making 2.4 steals per game.
Audige is second in the Big Ten in steals and keys a defense that is 19th in Division I in scoring (62.6) and 41st in field goal percentage (41.2).
Conversely, Northwestern is 344th in the nation in field goal shooting (40.6%) even though Buie is fifth in the conference in assists. The Wildcats are much better at the foul line as their 75.1 free throw percentage is 49th in Division I.
Buie and Audige both struggled as Northwestern shot just 31.8% (21 of 66) from the field in the loss to Penn State, including 6 for 24 (25%) from three-point range. Buie was 6 of 17 and Audige connected on just 3 of 14 field-goal attempts.
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) March 11, 2023
Buie finished with 16 points and four assists while sophomore guard Brooks Barnhizer added 15 points and 11 rebounds. Barnhizer had double-doubles in both games of the Big Ten tourney, the first two of his collegiate career.
Northwestern forced Penn State into 15 turnovers while committing just four but wound up losing.
Boise State vs Northwestern Prediction
Neither team enters the tournament with much momentum. However, the experienced Northwestern guard tandem of Buie and Audige should be able to control the tempo in a slow-paced game.
Pick: Northwestern -1.5 (-110)
Season record: 32-29 (+0.2 units) ATS, 4-10 (-5.5 units) ML
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