BIRMINGHAM, Alabama For the first time in 14 years, the Boise State men’s basketball team is experiencing “March Madness” on the biggest stage. The Broncos dramatic three overtime 107-102 victory last Saturday over New Mexico State in the WAC Championship game secured the coveted NCAA Tournament berth; the program’s first since 1994, when ironically Boise State also faced Louisville in the first round.
It will be another Bronco-Cardinal match-up in the 2008 NCAA Tournament on Friday night (approximate tip-off time of 7:40 p.m. Mountain Time, KBOI Radio and CBS TV). Boise State arrived in Birmingham on Wednesday evening after a smooth non-stop four hour charter flight from Boise. Thursday, the team will practice at a local high school gym in the afternoon, before stepping foot in BJCC Arena for media interviews and an open to the public evening shoot around.
“It was a great trip out to Birmingham,” said Bronco head coach Greg Graham. “That’s easy to say since a trip to the NCAA Tournament makes it great by itself alone.”
BJCC Arena, short for the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex, is the host site for Boise State’s portion of the East Regional bracket. The 16,063 seat facility has hosted previous NCAA Tournament games, with final touch-ups and inspections taking place Thursday morning in anticipation of Friday’s four first round games. Alabama marks the tenth different state this season the Broncos have played a game in, as Boise State has won games from New York to Hawaii (with stops along the way in Louisiana, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Utah and Montana).
Boise State enters the tournament as the number 14 seed in the East with a 25-8 record, setting a school record for single season wins. Louisville is 24-8 on the year and the number three seed out East, but still stinging from an overtime loss at the hands of Pitt in last week’s Big East Tournament quarterfinals.
While the Broncos are making just the school’s fifth NCAA appearance (1976, 1988, 1993, 1994 and 2008) and searching for the program’s first NCAA win, Louisville is steep in basketball tradition. The Cardinals are making their 34th tournament appearance, including national titles in 1980 and 1986. Louisville ranks seventh all-time in NCAA history with eight Final Four appearances, trailing only hoops heavyweights North Carolina, UCLA, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and Ohio State.
Check back to www.broncosports.com for notes and quotes from Thursday’s Boise State/Louisville press conferences, a game preview, photos from Boise State’s evening practice session and post-game reaction and photo gallery from Friday’s first round match-up in Birmingham.