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Preview: La Salle vs. Boise State

Preview: La Salle vs. Boise State

Guard play has taken on added significance in recent NCAA Tournament play, a trend that Boise State and La Salle have taken to an extreme. Two similar teams will take the court Wednesday when the Broncos and Explorers meet in a first-round game in Dayton, Ohio. Boise State relies heavily on its four-guard lineup and the nation's 13th-best 3-point shooting team while La Salle can sometimes employ five guards and finished second in the Atlantic-10 averaging 8.1 steals.

The Broncos, who were the first team in the country to post multiple victories over ranked opponents, received an at-large bid following their fifth-place finish in the Mountain West. Boise State won five of six entering its conference tournament, but lost in the quarterfinals to San Diego State after defeating the Aztecs five days earlier. Similarly, La Salle won seven of eight before losing at Saint Louis to close out the regular season and against Butler in the Atlantic-10 tournament quarterfinals.

TV: 9:10 p.m. ET, truTV

ABOUT LA SALLE (21-9): The Explorers received their first NCAA Tournament invite since 1992 and regularly start four guards, although five average at least 23.8 minutes. Ramon Galloway, a South Carolina transfer, leads La Salle in scoring, assists and steals. Sam Mills is 17-of-33 beyond the arc over his last nine games and often draws the opponent's best perimeter player. However, the Explorers could be without 6-11 sophomore center Steve Zack, who is listed as day-to-day with a foot injury. Zack's potential absence looms large against a Boise State team that lacks any significant size in its frontcourt.

ABOUT BOISE STATE (21-10): The Broncos are in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008 and sixth time in program history. Anthony Drmic (17.3 points) and Derrick Marks (16.3) make up one of the top-scoring guard duos in the country. While Drmic is the team's leading scorer, Marks is the team's best playmaker and leads the team in assists (3.9) as well as steals (1.8). Boise State is unlikely to be intimidated by the stage after winning at Creighton - behind a career-high 35 points from Marks - and losing by four at Michigan State during its non-conference schedule.

TIP-INS

  1. Marks leads Boise State with 13 blocked shots.
  2. La Salle is 5-1 in games decided by three points or less.
  3. The Broncos went 13-4 when they hit at least eight 3-pointers.

PREDICTION: La Salle 70, Boise State 66