The schedule reveal party didn’t reveal the schedule.
At least not all of it.
University of New Mexico men’s basketball coach Paul Weir, to a group of about 100 or so boosters at Rio Bravo Brewery on Tuesday at a function described as a “Schedule Reveal Party,” revealed the team’s 2018-19 schedule is still not done.
But it’s close, and several more puzzle pieces were put in place Tuesday night.
The team will open on the road on Nov. 6 against CSU-Northridge in the first of a home-and-home series that will bring the Matadors back to Dreamstyle Arena for a game in the 2019-20 season.
The Lobos will then make the unusual move of playing an exhibition game at home on Nov. 10 against one of the state’s non-Division I schools in the second year of the New Mexico Classic that features most of the state’s college basketball teams. Weir said the event had to fall on that weekend to make it work for all involved, forcing the awkward timing of the exhibition.
For the most part, Weir said, the delay in releasing the schedule has to do with the fact the Lobos were supposed to be a part of a multi-team exempt tournament. That would have had several teams involved, including the possibility of three playing in the Pit, capped by a neutral court game in the Staples Center on Dec. 7 against Saint Mary’s. The tournament fell apart, but the game against SMC will go on, Weir said.
HOBBS ROAD TRIP? Weir said he has applied for a waiver with the NCAA that would allow the team to play a “home” game at Hobbs High School in an effort, he says, to teach the Lobos about legendary Eagles coach Ralph Tasker. If approved, the opponent would not likely be a Division I team, though it would count as a regular season game for the Lobos.
COLORADO GAME: The Colorado Buffaloes will play in the Pit Dec. 11. It was originally scheduled for Dec. 4, but that will be the date UNM plays NMSU in Las Cruces — a date that ensures NMSU students will still be on campus.
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN: Weir also mentioned he is trying to “steal” from the non-conference philosophy employed by Nevada this past season that “perfected” how a non-power-six league team should schedule if it wants to maximize its chance of playing in the NCAA Tournament. That philosophy, Weir said, is essentially to play most of your schedule against teams that are expected to finish in the 100-250 RPI range — not necessarily against the best of the best, where a loss wouldn’t help anyway, but also not against the worst teams where a win could actually hurt your computer rankings.
That was the same philosophy used by former Lobo coaches Steve Alford and Craig Neal, and most of the Mountain West Conference, several years ago. In fact, in the 2012-13 season when the MW got five of its nine teams in the NCAA Tournament and had the No. 1 conference RPI in the country, the league was accused by national pundits of “gaming the system” with how it scheduled.
Nov. 6 — at CSU-Northridge Nov. 10 — TBD (exhibition vs. non-DI opponent) Nov. 13 — vs. Iona Nov. 17 — vs. New Mexico State Nov. 24 — vs. UTEP Dec. 1 — at Bradley Dec. 4 — at New Mexico State Dec. 7 — vs. Saint Mary’s (in Los Angeles) Dec. 11 — vs. Colorado Dec. 16 — vs. Central Arkansas Dec. 22 — vs. Penn