Conference: Western Athletic
Coach: Marvin Menzies
Record: 23-10 (13-1)
Ratings and rankings:
– Kenpom: 89
– RPI (per NCAA.com): 108
– AP/USA Today: Not ranked
Seeding: In our most recent bracket the Aggies are projected to be a 13 seed.
Names you need to know: F Remi Barry (13.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg), F Pascal Siakam (13.0 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 1.8 bpg), G Daniel Mullings (12.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.8 apg, 2.0 spg), C Tshilidzi Nephawe (10.4 ppg, 7.6 rpg)
Stats you need to know: The Aggies have shot the ball well from the field, as they’re making 46.6 percent of their shots and they’re also shooting nearly 37 percent from beyond the arc. New Mexico State doesn’t rely heavily upon the three, scoring just 20.6 percent of their points by way of that shot per kenpom.com. But they get the foul line (23.7 percent of their points come from there), and they’re also a very good offensive rebounding team. They’re one of the best at defending the three, as teams are shooting just over 29 percent from distance.
Tendencies: Menzies’ Aggies are going to look to work the ball inside, and when you have a front court that features the likes of Barry, Nephawe and Siakam that’s a good strategy to use. Barry is also this team’s second-best three-point shooter, with guard Ian Baker leading the team in makes (58) and percentage (47.2 percent). As for the defense NMSU will play man the majority of the time, and in Mullings they’ve got a perimeter defender who would rank 33rd nationally in steals had he played in enough games.
Big wins, bad losses: New Mexico State’s best non-conference win came against UTEP, avenging a loss to the Miners earlier in the season. Outside of that there aren’t any major wins, although it should be noted that the Aggies played Wichita State, Saint Mary’s, Wyoming, Baylor and Colorado State. As for bad losses, Oral Roberts was the worst non-conference defeat (they also lost twice to rival New Mexico) and they lost at Seattle in mid-January.
How’d they get here?: Some of the defeats above came as a result of the Aggies playing a significant stretch without seniors Nephawe and Mullings for injury reasons. Mullings missed 12 games with a broken finger and Nephawe missed 12 games with a deep bone bruise in his foot. While the team struggled without those two (7-5 without Mullings, 6-6 without Nephawe), players such as Barry and Siakam were able to use that as a springboard of sorts. Once everyone was healthy the Aggies ran through the WAC and won games over Bakersfield and Seattle in the WAC tournament.
Outlook: This is a dangerous team, as they have tournament experience and some talented pieces who can make things difficult for opponents on both ends of the floor. As a 13-seed New Mexico State is certainly capable of pulling off an upset.
How do I know you?: New Mexico State has become a fixture in the bracket, as they’re making their fourth consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament. Last season the Aggies took San Diego State to overtime before losing by four, and in 2010 they lost by three to Michigan State.