BOISE — The Boise State men's basketball team will waste no time finding out just how good it is this season.
Sources told the Idaho Press and Blue Turf Sports on Friday that the Broncos, who could have the most talented team in program history, will open the season on Nov. 25 in Orlando against the Kansas Jayhawks.
As part of a four-team, two-day tournament, Boise State will play either UCLA or Seton Hall the next night.
Boise State originally was expected to play in the Orlando Invitational with Gonzaga, Michigan State and others, but two teams withdrew from the tournament, which forced ESPN to look to combine teams from other tournaments to form smaller tournaments in Orlando during those dates.
According to sources, ESPN came back to Boise State with an offer to join what was once the Wooden Legacy Tournament and play Kansas in the opener. The Broncos quickly accepted.
Kansas, the favorites to win the NCAA Tournament last year before it was canceled due to COVID-19, has another loaded roster and likely will start the season somewhere in the top 10.
The game will likely be in prime time on ESPN on Nov. 25, giving the Broncos a rare national television game against one of the blue bloods of college basketball.
It all adds up to be one of the biggest games in program history. Boise State has never beaten a top-10 team.
The Broncos bring back leading scorer Derrick Alston Jr., Oregon transfer Abu Kigab and starting point guard RayJ Dennis. They also add four Division I transfers including two from Arizona that were once top-100 recruits.
It looks to be maybe the most talented team under Rice — and in program history. Boise State will be either first or second in the preseason Mountain West poll, and many including the NCAA's Andy Katz project the Broncos to make the NCAA Tournament.
Rice has repeatedly said he wanted to challenge his team with a difficult schedule this year to put it in position to compete for an at-large bid to the tournament. The Broncos could have played Gonzaga or Michigan State in the original tournament in Orlando, but will gladly take Kansas and either UCLA or Seton Hall as replacements.
ESPN is expected to officially announce the tournament next week. Boise State is looking to stay in Orlando and play three additional nonconference games, according to sources, but those have yet to be finalized.
The previous nonconference schedule, including games against Texas A&M, Northern Iowa, Tulsa, Santa Clara and Northern Colorado, likely will be redone due to the season starting two weeks later.
MOUNTAIN WEST SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED
The Broncos will open conference play with consecutive home games and finish with a pair of road games, the Mountain West announced Friday.
Dates could potentially slide a day earlier or later for TV purposes. This year the league has deals with CBS Sports and FOX.
Boise State starts Dec. 29 at home against San Jose State. The Broncos stay home to host Air Force on Jan. 2 before a huge road game at presumed league favorite San Diego State on Jan. 5.
Boise State returns home for the third time in four games on Jan. 9 to play Colorado State before road games at UNLV (Jan. 12) and Fresno State (Jan. 16).
The Broncos are home to play Utah State (Jan. 23) and Wyoming (Jan. 26) before playing at San Jose State (Jan. 30). UNLV visits ExtraMile Arena on Feb. 2 before Boise State hits the road to play at Nevada (Feb. 6) and New Mexico (Feb. 9).
After a home game against Fresno State on Feb. 13, the Broncos play at Wyoming on Feb. 16. Boise State finishes the home slate against San Diego State (Feb. 23) and Nevada (Feb. 27) before road games at Utah State (March 2) and Colorado State (March 6) to end the regular season.
As part of the unbalanced league schedule, Boise State will not host New Mexico and will not travel to Air Force.