Read through the rest of the Cheat Sheets here
Conference: Mountain West
Coach: Steve Alford
Rankings and Ratings:
– Kenpom: 16
– RPI: 2
– AP/USA Today: 15/14
Seeding?: Our Dave Ommen had New Mexico as a No. 2 seed playing dangerous Iowa State in Saturday’s bracket projection.
Names you need to know: Kendall Williams (13.5 ppg, 5.0 apg), Alex Kirk (12.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.8 bpg), Tony Snell (12.4 ppg, 38% from deep)
Stats you need to know: 2. Number of times the Lobos play in-state rivals New Mexico State even though they don’t have to. This year, Alford’s boys won both meetings.
How’d they get here?: The Lobos handled a tough UNLV team 63-56 to claim a hard-fought Mountain West title.
Outlook: With a quality backcourt, Alex Kirk in the blocks, and a good supporting cast, the Lobos can easily make the Elite Eight, if not the Final Four.
How do I know you?: Behind the Big Three of Williams, Snell and Kirk stands 6’9″ Aussie Cameron Bairstow. The 250-lb. junior is capable of getting a double-double every night, and should be a crucial part of any postseason run the Lobos make.
Eric is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.
Illinois suffered another blow in what has already turned out to be a brutal season.
Mike Thorne is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing his meniscus. He reportedly underwent surgery on Monday to repair the injury.
Thorne, a transfer from Charlotte, was starting at center for the Illini and doing a good job of it as well. He was averaging 13.4 points and 8.4 boards, although Illinois has started off the season 3-4.
The reason for that slow start has mainly been those injuries. Tracy Abrams is already out for the season after tearing his achilles, and the Illini training room looked like a M.A.S.H. unit. Kendrick Nunn just returned two games ago from surgery to repair a torn thumb ligament. LeRon Black is still getting back to speed after offseason knee surgery. Jaylon Tate is back after dislocating a finger. Jalen Coleman-Lands was slowed by a stress fracture.
John Groce entered this season on the hot seat, and dealing with all of these injuries certainly isn’t helping his cause.
We talk about a lot of stuff of the podcast today, mainly because a lot of stuff happened since we last spoke with you all.
For starters, we need to discuss the ‘realness’ of Syracuse and Xavier. Are they both truly top 15 teams, or do they just have top 15 resumes? We also dive into Chris Mack’s epic troll-job of Dayton at the Advocare Invitational final.
Other topics we touched on: Whether or not Scott is ever going to apologize to Wayne Selden, Wichita State’s tournament hopes, Texas A&M and whether we’d take Ben Simmons, Kris Dunn or Denzel Valentine today.
As always, you can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes right here. It’s the quickest way to get access on your cell phone or tablet.