The Boise State Broncos are currently on Joe Lunardi’s next four out in his latest edition of Bracketology. A month ago, the Broncos weren’t even in the conversation to break into the NCAA tournament for the second consecutive year. A 5-3 conference start, Boise State’s best start in their time in the Mountain West Conference, has given them a second chance to make the dance. Boise State’s second life has been fueled by the play of senior Ryan Watkins.
Watkins has secretly been having one of the best seasons in college basketball and is making a case to be the conference player of the year. Watkins is one of 13 players in the country who is averaging a double-double. No Bronco has averaged a double-double this late in a season since game by game statistics were recorded. Throughout his career Watkins has steadily improved his statistics. This season’s improvements for Watkins have been astronomical. Watkins is scoring three more points per game and grabbing four more rebounds per game.
Wednesday against Air Force Watkins had another typical Watkins night. His 16 points and 13 rebounds were a major factor in Boise State’s victory. Watkins has had a double-double in six of the eight conference games thus far for the Broncos. He was one point shy of a double-double against San Diego State and one rebound shy of a double-double against Wyoming.
There hasn’t been a team or player in the Mountain West Conference that has been able to slow down Watkins. Even the New Mexico Lobos surrendered 22 rebounds to the senior despite having the best frontcourt players in the conference. If Boise State wants to make the NCAA tournament, the Broncos will have to beat New Mexico and San Diego State at home to solidify their resume. In order for Boise State to beat its two biggest foes in the Mountain West, Watkins will have to be a force on the block.
If Watkins does not get the recognition that he deserves as player of the year in the conference, he will still go down as one of the best post players in Boise State history. Only three players in Boise State’s history have averaged double digit rebounds, and Watkins has an opportunity to be the second Bronco to do so since Boise State became a Division I program. Watkins is tied for the most rebounds in a single game this season in the NCAA with 22 against New Mexico. Watkins will have an opportunity to set a school record for consecutive double-doubles Saturday against UNLV. Watkins has had a double-double in five consecutive games for the Broncos.