NCAA tournament team previews: New Mexico Lobos
As part of its preview of the 2014 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, SI.com is taking a look at all 68 teams in the field. RPI and SOS data from realtimerpi.com. Adjusted offense and defense are from kenpom.com and measure the number of points scored and allowed per 100 possessions, and the team's national rank. For more teams, click here.
Record: 27-6, 15-3 in Mountain West
Adjusted offense / Adjusted defense: 112.7 (38th) / 96.5 (38th)
Seed: No. 7 in South
Impact player: Cameron Bairstow, senior forward: 20.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 55.6% FG
The Case For:
Two words: Cameron Bairstow. The Australian senior has been a revelation for the Lobos. He uses an elite level of possessions (29 percent) and he uses them well, racking up more than 20 points per game. Behind Bairstow, New Mexico has three scorers who can carry some of the load: Kendall Williams (16.4 points per game), Alex Kirk (13.6) and Cullen Neal (7.2). Williams, in fact, boasts a better offensive rating than Bairstow. The Lobos are the definition of balanced: They are 38th in the country in offensive and defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.com. That balance has helped them succeed in big stages, such as the Mountain West championship game against San Diego State, which they won 64-58.
The Case Against:
Bairstow and Williams combine to score 36.7 points per game, or 49.2 percent of the team's per-game average. They have shown amazing consistency throughout the season -- Bairstow only had one game with single-digit scoring, and Williams had just two -- but what happens if they both go cold together? Does New Mexico have the firepower outside of their two stars to keep up with an elite team? Aside from beating the conference rival Aztecs two out of three, they had poor results against other tournament-bound teams, losing to UMass, Kansas and New Mexico State.
SI prediction: Beat Stanford in second round, lose to Kansas in third round View complete bracket predictions from SI.com's panel of experts