Northwestern Makes Second NCAA Tournament
Defensive Teams Meet in First Round
A pair of defensively elite teams will battle in the NCAA Tournament’s first round when the Northwestern Wildcats meet the Boise State Broncos on Thursday.
Both teams are in the top 15 in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency ratings, with Northwestern ranked 13th and Boise State 14th.
The Wildcats are making their second tournament appearance in history after finishing tied for second in the Big 10 with a 12-8 conference record. The Broncos also tied for second in their conference with a 13-5 Mountain West record and will be returning to the dance for the second year in a row.
According to college basketball lines, Northwestern is a 2-point favorite in the game.
Northwestern Leads With Defense
Though the Wildcats have some solid scoring options in Boo Buie and Chase Audige, it’s their defense that wins games.
Northwestern’s defense is second in the Big Ten in points allowed and third in field-goal percentage, with opponents averaging 62.5 points on 41.2% shooting.
The Wildcats fell to Penn State in the Big Ten Tournament, but they kept it close, taking the game into overtime and making things difficult for the conference tournament runner-up. The Nittany Lions shot 41.2% in the win and finished with 15 turnovers, which Northwestern turned into 23 points.
Northwestern is also second in the conference in forced turnovers, forcing 14.4 a game. Audige leads the team with 2.4 steals a game.
The DPOY, @ChaseAudige 🔒 pic.twitter.com/C5DqAKShgs
— Northwestern Basketball (@NUMensBball) March 7, 2023
For a team that doesn’t always light it up offensively, Northwestern’s defense will continue to be crucial as it looks to advance.
According to NCAA basketball odds, Northwestern has +20000 odds to win March Madness.
Boise State Gets Offensive Help
Just like Northwestern, the Broncos’ defense is the foundation of their game, but their offense can lead to wins as well.
The Broncos are in the middle of the pack in the Mountain West in scoring and shooting, but they’re second in 3-point shooting. Boise State averages 72.2 points a game on 45.5% shooting and 36.5% from beyond the arc.
Boise State’s offense sputtered in its loss in the Mountain West Tournament, as the team finished with 62 points on 40% shooting, but the Broncos had a strong game prior. In their tournament win, the Broncos shot 51.7% to score 87 points.
Along with solid shooting, the Broncos also have a number of players who can score. Five players average in double digits, with two of those players averaging over 40% in 3-point shooting. In Boise State’s past four games, at least three players reached double figures.
The Broncos’ defense is important, but they also need to continue their solid offense and balanced scoring to make a tournament run.
Northwestern vs Boise Game Injuries
Northwestern vs Boise State Head-to-Head
This will be the first meeting between Northwestern and Boise State.
According to college basketball odds, Northwestern has +3600 odds to make it to the Final Four while the sportsbook gives Boise State +4100 odds to do so.
Northwestern vs Boise State Game Information
- Game: Northwestern (21-11) vs Boise State (24-9)
- Location: Golden 1 Center, Sacramento, CA
- Day/Time: Thursday, March 16, 7:35 p.m. ET
- Northwestern vs Boise State Live stream: TBS.com
Northwestern vs Boise State Betting Lines
Northwestern vs Boise State Picks and Prediction
The 7/10 game between Northwestern and Boise State poses a solid opportunity for an upset alert in the first round.
Northwestern stuttered at the end of the season, losing four of its last five, while Boise State recently fell in its conference tournament semifinals. Since both teams own strong defenses, betting the under for the game isn’t a bad option. The Wildcats have also struggled offensively, but the Broncos should find ways to score. Although Boise State is the higher seed, it should be able to pull off the upset.
The odds and predictions in the article are based on the time of writing and publication. They may differ as to when the actual event takes place.