5 Things New Mexico Basketball Must Do to Make The 2014 NCAA Tournament

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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
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Erwin Mendoza is a contributing writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @erwinsports, or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Ride Cameron Bairstow

bairstow
Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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4. More Big Men Play

big men
Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

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 .

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3. Win on the road

road
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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2. Beat San Diego State

sdsu
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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1. Win the Conference Tournament

win
Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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  • ic2705

    Sorry Erwin, But this is one of the most uninformed articles I have read in a long time. New Mexico is almost a lock for the NCAA tourney. I agree with only one thing you said: they have to beat San Diego State once to make it a sure thing. But rather than that, you should have written the article about how they don’t get in because that is much more unlikely. For them to not get in they would have to lose both times to San Diego State and then lose one of their other three games left. Then they would have to get upset early in the Conference Tournament. Even then they would be a nine loss team, and would at least be on the bubble. If they beat San Diego State this Saturday they are in and that’s that. That would be two wins against current top 10 teams, no really bad losses and a 21-5 record with an above average schedule. There is no way they miss the tourney then unless they completely collapse and then they would still be on the bubble. I have no idea where you are coming from talking like they are going to have to squeak their way in.