Introducing Cinderella: New Mexico State is back for the WAC
Coach: Chris Jans
Record: 28-5, 12-2 (first in the WAC)
Rankings and Ratings:
– Kenpom: 58
– RPI: 42
– AP/USA TODAY: Not ranked
Seeding: New Mexico State will likely fall in the No. 12-13 range for seeding after a very strong season. Winning the WAC by two full games, the Aggies also have some good wins over power conference teams.
Names you need to know: Senior guard Zach Lofton is averaging around 20 points per game as he’s the team’s leading scorer. Senior forward Jemarrio Jones is putting up 10.8 points and 13.0 rebounds per game on the season as he’s a double-double threat. Sophomore guard A.J. Harris is an Ohio State transfer who is capable of scoring or distributing.
Stats you need to know: Armed with a top-15 adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom, New Mexico State earned many of its wins by getting stops. It’s also important to know that the Aggies are No. 345 in the country in free-throw shooting at 63.9 percent.
Big wins, bad losses: A win over Miami is the most impressive win for New Mexico State as they also picked off Illinois in Chicago and Davidson. Only a road loss at Seattle classifies in the sub-150 RPI category as New Mexico State doesn’t have a lot of bad losses.
How’d they get here?: New Mexico State steamrolled Chicago State before holding off Seattle and Grand Canyon to earn the autobid.
Outlook: New Mexico State has already beaten some power conference teams and they have one of the best defenses in the country. If a go-to scorer like Lofton gets hot then the Aggies could be a trendy upset pick.
How do I know you?: The Aggies have been in the NCAA tournament in five of the last six years as they haven’t won a game in the event during that span.