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Pit May Be Lacking In Foe Power

Alford Yet To Finish Schedule

Home certainly won’t be where the heart of the New Mexico men’s basketball schedule is this season.

Thus far, the Lobos’ home slate leaves much to be desired, while the road foes appear much saltier.

While UNM has yet to release its non-conference schedule, other schools have – and the Lobos have popped up on four more recently.

More hoops At a glance
Lobos 2011-12 non-conference schedule
Home
New Mexico State Nov. 16
Idaho State           Nov. 30
Missouri State      Dec. 3
Montana State      Dec. 20
Road
USC                     Dec. 10
NMSU                  Dec. 28
Neutral
76 Classic (3 games) Anaheim, Calif.          Nov. 24-27
Oklahoma State (Oklahoma City)                    Dec. 17

Idaho State announced it will play the Lobos in the Pit on Nov. 30; Montana State will face UNM in the Pit on Dec. 20; Southern Cal plays host to New Mexico on Dec. 10, and New Mexico State plays the Lobos in the Pit on Nov. 16 and in Las Cruces on Dec. 28.

UNM coach Steve Alford has yet to confirm the games. On Tuesday he said he was still trying to fill one more game to complete the schedule.

Last week, Alford told the Journal via a hand-written fax, it’s been even more “difficult” to find new home-and-home series this season because the Mountain West Conference – of which the Lobos are a part – has just eight teams in it this season but goes to nine teams next year. Thus, UNM plays 14 league games this season but 16 next year.

Thus far, the home slate isn’t much to fax home about.

Idaho State and Montana State, both out of the Big Sky Conference, weren’t exactly powers last season. They were a combined 11-21 in league play and 22-38 overall.

The Bengals (9-20) had an Ratings Percentage Index of 302 while the Bobcats (13-18) were 258.

The other Lobo home games known, thus far, are against New Mexico State (Nov. 16) and Missouri State (Dec. 3).

The home game against the Aggies is part of the teams’ yearly mandated home-and-home series, while the Missouri State contest is part of the Missouri Valley-MWC Challenge, which is set up by both leagues.

At 26-9, Missouri State is the only team thus far on the Lobos’ non-confererence home schedule to have a winning record last season. The Bears were 15-3 in the MVC, but failed to make the NCAA Tournament.

The Aggies were 16-17 and 9-7 in the Western Athletic Conference.

Last year, the Lobos had one of the weakest non-conference schedules in the country, and did not play a single non-conference game against a team that made the 2011 NCAA Tournament.

That appeared to be one of the main reasons the Lobos (22-13, 8-8) didn’t get a sniff for the NCAA Tournament themselves.

Alford disagrees.

“We didn’t make the NCAA Tournament last year not due to scheduling but due to not winning enough games,” he said in the aforementioned fax.

The Lobos, however, have beefed up their slate outside the Pit.

New Mexico is part of the eight-team, three-game 76 Classic on Nov. 24-27 in Anaheim, Calif. Its first-round opponent has yet to be named, but the field also includes Boston College, Oklahoma, Saint Louis, Santa Clara, Washington State, UC Riverside and Villanova.

The Lobos are also in the All-College Classic, a four-team, one-day event Dec. 17. They will play Oklahoma State (20-14, 6-10 in Big 12) in Oklahoma City.

USC (19-15, 10-8 in Pac-10, now Pac-12) is the only team thus far on the Lobos’ non-conference schedule that made last season’s NCAA Tournament, losing in one of the four first-round games (formerly play-in game) to VCU.
— This article appeared on page B1 of the Albuquerque Journal

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