By Joseph Santoliquito
Philadelphia, PA (CBS) — Some call it a play-in game, while officially it’s a first round game. It doesn’t matter to La Salle. The Explorers could care less. All they know is that La Salle will be playing in the NCAA Tournament’s 68-team field, the first time the Explorers will be dancing in March since 1992.
La Salle will play Boise State, an Mountain West at-large team. Here is how they shape up:
When: Wednesday, 9:10 p.m., Tru TV in Dayton, Ohio, NCAA West Region first-round game.
La Salle: Record 21-9
Jerrell Wright, F 6-8, So. (10.2 ppg, 6.7 rpg)
Ramon Galloway, G 6-3, Sr. (17.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
Tyreek Duren, G 6-0, Jr. (15.0 ppg, 3.4 apg)
Sam Mills, G 6-2, Jr. (7.9 ppg, 2.3 apg)
D.J. Peterson, G 6-5, So. (4.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg).
Best wins: Villanova, Butler, VCU.
Boise State: Record 21-10
Anthony Drmic, F 6-6 So. (17.2 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
Ryan Watkins, F 6-9, Jr. (8.4 ppg, 6.9 rpg)
Derrick Marks, G 6-3 So. (16.4 ppg, 3.9 apg)
Jeff Elorriaga, G 6-2, Jr. (10.4 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
Igor Hadziomerovic, G 6-4, So. (5.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
Best wins: Creighton, Colorado State, UNLV.
Summary: The key for the Explorers will be getting out and defending the three. The Broncos are among the best three-point shooting teams in the country, making almost 40-percent from beyond the arc. La Salle’s Jerrell Wright will be asked to play a large role, since only Ryan Watkins stands over 6-7. Still, Boise State is one the better offensive rebounding teams in the country.
La Salle will counter with Galloway and Duren. Boise State will find it difficult to match up with them. Don’t be surprised if La Salle coach John Giannini throws in Tyrone Garland with Galloway and Duren in revving the game up even faster.
Prediction: This should be a fun game to watch, with a lot a scoring (La Salle yielded an average of 65.9 ppg and an Atlantic 10-worst 45.4 FG-percentage). Hopefully, the Explorers won’t get too caught up with just being happy to be playing in the NCAA tourney than winning. But here’s counting on Duren and Galloway to shine in their first time on the big stage and a La Salle 76-71 victory.
Joseph Santoliquito is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly.