Mar 16, 2013, 9:14 PM EDT
The Mountain West was one of the nation’s most entertaining conferences this season. But since their games played on west coast time and, too often, on channels that aren’t easily accesible to the casual observer, quite a few folks got their first glimpse of New Mexico and UNLV on Saturday evening as the Lobos knocked off the Rebels in the MWC title game, 63-56.
And if you did, than you got a perfect sense of just what comprises both teams.
UNLV’s Anthony Bennett looked the part of a top ten pick for the first five minutes, scoring 11 points on 5-6 shooting, hitting a three and throwing down a monster dunk in the process. But in the second half, Bennett was a non-factor as Bryce DeJean-Jones and Katin Reinhardt shot UNLV out of the game on two different occasions, sandwiching the back-to-back threes that Dejean-Jones hit to cut a nine-point lead to three.
That, in a nutshell, is UNLV. Extremely talented with a lack of decision-making prowess. Final Four potential, yet a trendy first round upset-pick.
New Mexico is a different story.
The Lobos can be as frustrating on the defensive end of the floor as any team in the country. They are big, they are long and they are physical. They challenge shots and they bump cuts and they can take over a game without shooting the ball all that well. And while that defense can keep them in a game, New Mexico has enough weapons offensively that it’s impossible to game-plan to stop them all. Kendall Williams, Alex Kirk and, as he showed on Saturday, Tony Snell are all capable of carrying New Mexico for a stretch.
Against the Rebels, Snell scored 10 of his 21 points in a flurry during the second half, when UNM opened up a 56-47 lead on UNLV.
Thanks to Snell, the Lobos closed out their duel-MWC titles. They won the regular season title by two games. They won the league’s tournament title. They are No. 2 in the RPI having played the nation’s third toughest schedule. They have 10 top 50 wins and a 19-5 record against the top 100.
The Lobos may have locked up a No. 2 seed in the Big Dance, and may even sneak their way into a No. 1 seed.
But regardless of where they end up, the one thing that is for certain is that New Mexico is for real.
Don’t be scared to pick them deep into the tournament in March.
You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.
Apr 18, 2015, 10:45 AM EDT
Coppin State junior guard Sterling Smith is looking like a prime graduate transfer.
Apr 18, 2015, 9:35 AM EDT
Kentucky five-star big man Skal Labissiere believes that the NCAA will allow him to play this season.
Apr 17, 2015, 10:23 PM EDT
Cheick Diallo won named MVP for both the McDonald’s All-American Game and Jordan Brand Classic.
Apr 17, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT
Hoiberg just completed his fifth season at Iowa State.
Apr 17, 2015, 8:20 PM EDT
The Aztecs now have no commits for 2016.
Apr 17, 2015, 7:18 PM EDT
Domantas Sabonis previously announced he would return.
Apr 17, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT
The Jordan Brand Classic is Friday night at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Apr 17, 2015, 5:00 PM EDT
The former Villanova guard cut his list to eight.
Apr 17, 2015, 4:23 PM EDT
Thanks to this ruling Neal will have three years of eligibility remaining.
Apr 17, 2015, 3:19 PM EDT
Heron, who committed to Pitt back in January 2014, says he will continue to consider Jamie Dixon’s program.
Apr 17, 2015, 1:31 PM EDT
Dazon Ingram joins Brandon Austin and Donta Hall, both of whom remained committed following the firing of Anthony Grant, in Alabama’s 2015 class.
Former Florida guard discusses Billy Donovan’s potential as an NBA head coach on ‘Dan Patrick Show’ (VIDEO)
Apr 17, 2015, 12:45 PM EDT
Beal spoke highly of his college coach, including how a possible adjustment would go should Donovan decide to try his hand at the NBA game.
Apr 17, 2015, 12:19 PM EDT
Harris is the fifth departure from the Kansas State program since the end of the season.
Apr 17, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT
Hooley’s game-winning shot in the America East title game came less than two months after his mother passed from a lengthy bout with colon cancer.
Apr 17, 2015, 12:04 AM EDT
Hale is Alabama’s leading returning scorer, as he averaged 8.2 points per game last season.
Apr 16, 2015, 11:51 PM EDT
Landing Zimmerman is a big deal for Dave Rice, who could use the boost after a disappointing 2014-15.
Apr 16, 2015, 10:56 PM EDT
Michigan won’t lack for big men when Davis arrives on campus in 2016, but that will give him time to develop as a freshman.
Apr 16, 2015, 8:02 PM EDT
Costello dealt with the knee issue down the stretch, but the procedure isn’t expected to keep him out of offseason workouts for too long.
Apr 16, 2015, 6:32 PM EDT
The Mountain West is guaranteed one of the eight slots in the field.
Apr 16, 2015, 3:58 PM EDT
With the NBA coaching carousel getting started, which college coaches will be linked to the jobs?
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