San Diego St. Aztecs vs. Boise St. Broncos Pick & Prediction MARCH 8th 2024

San Diego State reached the national championship game last season in a stunning accomplishment.

With the next version of March Madness looming, the No. 21 Aztecs reside in fifth place in the ultra-tough Mountain West Conference entering Friday night’s regular-season finale against visiting Boise State.

The Aztecs (22-8, 11-6) and Broncos (21-9, 12-5) are both coming off losses as they jockey for seeding position in next week’s Mountain West tournament in Las Vegas.

San Diego State never led while dropping a 62-58 decision to host UNLV on Tuesday night. The setback eliminated the Aztecs from having a chance at winning a share of the regular-season title.

Boise State lost to visiting Nevada 76-66 on Tuesday. The Broncos are tied for second with UNLV and Nevada. Utah State is in sole possession of first place at 13-4 after Wednesday’s 90-70 road victory against San Jose State.

The sting of San Diego State’s loss didn’t linger long as the school on Wednesday announced a contract extension through the 2027-28 season for coach Brian Dutcher. The deal raised Dutcher’s 2023-24 salary to $2.3 million and he will receive annual $100,000 raises.

With the ink not yet dry on the new deal, Dutcher will turn his attention on getting his troops to perform better than they did against the Runnin’ Rebels.

The Aztecs missed their initial 13 field-goal attempts and 23 of their first 25 and fell behind by as many as 17 points in the first half.

San Diego State recovered to tie the score at 58 before UNLV made the clutch plays to post the victory.

“As disappointed as you are, in reality we lost to a team that’s won 10 of its last 11 games and is playing good basketball,” Dutcher said. “It’s not like we came out and lost to a bad team. We lost to the hottest team in the Mountain West on their home floor and had a shot to win the game.”

Mountain West player of the year candidate Jaedon LeDee (averages of 20.5 points and 8.3 rebounds) scored just 12 points on 2-of-12 shooting for the Aztecs, who shot a meager 28.1 percent from the field.

Elijah Saunders led San Diego State with 14 points off the bench. He made a career-best four 3-pointers.

“My shots have been feeling really good lately,” Saunders said. “I was in rhythm.”

The Aztecs, who are 14-0 at home, will be looking to avenge a 67-66 loss to the Broncos on Jan. 20 in Boise.

Boise State had reeled off five consecutive victories before the loss to Nevada.

Broncos leading scorer Tyson Degenhart (16.9) had 15 points and 12 rebounds against the Wolf Pack. Max Rice also scored 15 points.

Degenhart recognized the loss was damaging to Boise State’s odds of sharing the regular-season title. But he also knew there was no time for a pity party.

“We have a great opportunity ahead of us with playing San Diego State on the road,” Degenhart said. “We know that our season isn’t over yet with one last game to take care of. We’ll let the loss sit, watch the film back and then continue to get better and prepare for Friday.”

Boise State trailed by as many as 15 points against Nevada and was off the mark from outside, hitting just 6 of 23 from behind the arc.

“I think it was just an off night,” Degenhart said. “We got some good looks and a good game plan coming in. We knew they were going to double team, and we had good cutters, but we just didn’t make shots. I think that’s ultimately what it was.”

–Field Level Media

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