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Bronco Nation sends Boise State off to NCAA Tournament

As a No. 8 seed in the West region, Boise State faces No. 9 Memphis on Thursday at 11:45 a.m. MT at the Moda Center in Portland.

BOISE, Idaho — Tuesday morning outside of ExtraMile Arena, Bronco Nation gathered to send off its history-making Boise State men's basketball team as they begin their NCAA Tournament journey. 

The Broncos earned a No. 8 seed in the tournament's West region and will tip-off against No. 9 Memphis on Thursday, March 17 at the Moda Center in Portland at 11:45 a.m. MT. The first-round matchup will be televised on TNT.

Boise State's No. 8 seed is the program's highest NCAA Tournament ranking since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985. In a year full of historic accomplishments, head coach Leon Rice and the Broncos also came in at No. 23 in Monday's AP Poll, the highest ranking in men's basketball history. 

Bronco Nation gathered outside ExtraMile Arena's Lobby 3 to send their 2022 squad off to the big dance around 11:45 a.m. Tuesday. Boise State then got in their team buses to hit the road to the Boise Airport and is on their way to Portland.

Boise State's open practice for the media and fans at the Moda Center is scheduled for Wednesday from 12:30-1:10 p.m. MT.

Boise State Senior Associate Athletic Director for External Affairs, Cody Gougler, said the Broncos randomly selected "a few lucky students" to fly with the team and stay in the team hotel. Boise State also has a charter bus of students heading to Portland, according to Gougler's Tweet.

ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi -- who predicted 67 of the 68 NCAA Tournament teams correctly -- listed Boise State's No. 8 seed as a 'MISS' by the selection committee. 

"It's pretty hard to win a four-bid league -- including regular-season and conference tournament titles -- and get stuck in an 8/9 game," Lunardi said

Despite the controversial placement in the bracket, a Boise State win on Thursday sets up a potential matchup with the top-ranked Bulldogs. It would be Rice's first matchup with Gonzaga since he left Spokane for Boise in 2010 after 11 seasons under head coach Mark Few.

RELATED: March Madness: West Region preview, predictions

As they have done all year, Boise State could erase history on Thursday by winning the Broncos' first NCAA Tournament game in program history. Boise State is 0-7 all-time in March Madness, including losses in 2013 and 2015 after earning at-large bids under Rice. 

The Broncos have won 24 of their last 27 games, including the Mountain West Conference regular-season title and Mountain West Tournament Championship. It is the first two-title season for Boise State since 1988, when the Broncos competed in the Big Sky Conference.

Tickets for Boise State's game Thursday against Memphis can be purchased by clicking this link

Tickets for the first-round matchup are limited, with priority going to men's basketball season ticket holders, based on the Bronco Athletic Association priority point system.

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