5 Things New Mexico Basketball Must Do to Make The 2014 NCAA Tournament
5 Things New Mexico Basketball Must Do to Make the 2014 NCAA Tournament
The New Mexico Lobos are winding down regular season play in the Mountain West Conference and they’re sitting in second place, a game behind San Diego State. When San Diego State comes to the Pit in Albuquerque, New Mexico, it’ll either put New Mexico in a bind or in the driver’s seat for the conference lead.
The Lobos’ overall record isn't too bad at 19-5, with 10-2 during conference play. Credit Craig Neal and his staff on turning around what was believed to be a lost season after Steve Alford deserted Albuquerque for UCLA.
National perception believes that the Lobos' best win on their schedule came against the Cincinnati Bearcats, while their next best win came against Boise State. According to CBSSports.com, the Lobos are 1-2 against the top 25 in RPI, including two losses against UMass and the Kansas Jayhawks on neutral floors.
New Mexico must focus on the rest of conference play, especially while they trail San Diego State in the standings. While San Diego State is virtually locked into the NCAA tournament, it’s questionable if another bid from the Mountain West Conference will happen.
Instead of last year’s Mountain West record-setting six teams going to the tournament, it’s looking like a one-bid league, maybe two at best. Besides San Diego State, New Mexico is the likely candidate to show up in the dance. Unless, of course, another team rises up during conference tournament time to take home the automatic bid.
To earn that second bid for the Mountain West Conference and redeem themselves of last year’s early ejection, they have to do the following five things.
5. Ride Cameron Bairstow
He is currently the Mountain West's leading scorer with 20.3 PPG. The Lobos know who to turn to in order to win games in the final minutes.
4. More Big Men Play
Alex Kirk and Bairstow were the bash brothers when they beat Nevada at home. Kirk led the team with 29 points, but Bairstow wasn't too far behind with 24. The bigs are holding down the block party with 120 total blocks, while opponents have only totaled 70 .
3. Win on the road
New Mexico has to go to Las Vegas, Reno and San Diego in their remaining games. It’s not grueling, but New Mexico faces two tough teams in UNLV and San Diego State.
2. Beat San Diego State
New Mexico has to beat San Diego State at least once because it’ll help their chances to impress the selection committee. Depending on the end of the season, New Mexico could face San Diego State up to three times. Just one win would help tremendously.
1. Win the Conference Tournament
Right now, the Mountain West could be a one-bid league if San Diego State wins the conference tournament. The Lobos must go deep, otherwise San Diego State is earning itself a no. 2 seed.