Introducing Cinderella: New Mexico State Aggies dancing once again
Conference: Western Athletic Conference
Coach: Paul Weir
Record: 27-5 (11-3 WAC)
Ratings and Rankings:
– Kenpom: 92
– RPI: 64
– AP/USA Today: N/A
Seeding: When the latest NBC Sports bracket projection was released on Saturday, it predicted that CSU Bakersfield would win the WAC Tournament title and projected the Roadrunners as a No. 15 seed. The Aggies have a much higher RPI than several projected seeds on higher lines, so maybe, they move up in the next installment of bracketology.
Names you need to know: Ian Baker the star of this New Mexico State team, averaging 16.7 points, 4.3 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. He rarely came off the court during the WAC Tournament en route to MVP honors. The 6-footer will have the ball in his hands with the game on the line, and has a track record of coming up with clutch shots.
Stats you need to know: New Mexico State’s offensive efficiency. Paul Weir moved one seat over at Marvin Menzies left for the UNLV vacancy this offseason. Defense and rebounding is what the team centered around. While that’s still true of this year’s team, there’s more of an emphasis on the offensive side. The Aggies rank 76th in offensive efficiency per kenpom. That’s up more than 100 spots from 2016.
Big wins, bad losses: New Mexico State has win in terms of RPI would be CSU Bakersfield, followed by New Mexico. The Aggies worst loss would be splitting the regular-season series with Utah Valley, which ended the year a game under .500
How’d they get here?: New Mexico State entered as the No. 2 seed in the WAC. After defeating Chicago State and UMKC by an average margin of victory of 16 points, the Aggies had a tired CSU Bakersfield. The previous day, the Roadrunners lived up to the nickname, needing four overtimes to take out Utah Valley in the WAC semis. CSU Bakersfield simply ran out of gas once New Mexico State decided it wanted to speed the game up.
Outlook: Despite its constant visits to the Big Dance, it’s often short lived for the Aggies. Perhaps with a better balance of offensive and defense they can change the outcome this time around. New Mexico State is an experienced team with multiple guys who have been in NCAA Tournaments before. That’s enough to put an upset alert on any team its set to face.
How do I know you?: The 2010 NCAA Tournament, or any NCAA Tournament from 2012-2015. How about Sim Bhullar? Do you remember him? What about Pascal Siakam? A 2016 first-round pick who is currently starting for the Toronto Raptors?