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It's been a while since I visited this space. I've been preoccupied with finding our next Boise State beat writer.

We found him and I'll share more about him in another column. Suffice to say I'm excited about his potential.

Suffer me a few moments while I look ahead to 2022.

When you get to be my age — 60 and counting — you don't want to look too far ahead. I am, though, looking forward to the spring and golf. Of course that has nothing to do with you or why you're reading this section or this particular column.

So what will the top stories be in 2022? It won't be a new athletic director or head football coach at Boise State. Those positions, filled early in 2021, are in good hands.

In no particular order, here are three story lines I see unfolding in the year ahead. I wanted to offer at least five possible stories, but I don't have a crystal ball. Just the ability to guess like anybody else, but with a platform to pontificate from.

BRONCOS HOOPS ON NCAA PATH: There's a faction, the size of which I can't measure unless you consider attendance at ExtraMile Arena, that dearly wants the Boise State men's basketball team to qualify for the NCAA Tournament.

This year's team has a good shot. It's going to need to start making more free throws for it to be realized. But I think come March the Broncos will will be in the thick of things.

I like Boise State's defense. It's probably going to be defense that will have to carry the Broncos to the NCAA Tournament.

The Broncos have capable scorers. And they have just enough depth. I like the debut of freshman Tyson Degenhart, a Spokane native. I should have expected Degenhart to make a seamless transition. He comes from a high school league that is one of the most challenging in the state of Washington. Mentally he was tested.

The Broncos have plenty of time to make a run for sure. Let's just hope they can get through the COVID scare and get back to business.

So I'm going to shock a former Idaho Press writer by predicting that Boise State will find a way to get into the NCAA Tournament. ESPN's Joe Lunardi — the king of bracketology — has Boise State in the NCAA Tournament. So that's good enough for me.

OWYHEE'S FIRST STATE TITLE? It might not take long for the Storm to hoist their first state tournament banner.

It could come in boys basketball. I expect the Storm to manhandle 5A Southern Idaho Conference foes.

Coach Andy Harrington will tell you his team is young. And it is if you look strictly at the grade level of each player. The Storm feature four freshmen, a sophomore, four juniors and two seniors. But the players have plenty of club experience. One of the two seniors is 6-foot-6 Jack Payne, a transfer from Boise. He led the Brave to state last year.

This team should challenge for a state championship.

BOISE STATE WILL EARN A BOWL BID: And maybe, just maybe, Boise State football will get to play in the bowl game next year — barring lightning strikes and a new strain(s) of the pandemic.

The Broncos will win the Mountain Division and play for the conference championship and win said championship. That would put them in the LA Bowl.

To challenge for a New Year's bowl isn't out of the realm of possibility. Of their four nonconference games, Oregon State and BYU would be the tests.

Boise State opens on the road at Oregon State and will be at home the first week in November against BYU.

The other two nonconference games are against UT Martin and UTEP (insert yawn here).

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