New Mexico Men's Basketball 2014 NCAA Tournament Capsule

New Mexico Lobos
Mountain West (27-6, 15-3)


New Mexico has largely been overshadowed by San Diego State this year. That may not be a bad thing for first year head coach Craig Neal and his Lobos squad. All of these players remember what happened last time they were in the NCAA Tournament. A #3 seed in 2013, the Lobos fell to Harvard in the round of 64, putting a quick end to a tournament in which many pegged New Mexico as a team that could make a run to the Final Four. Maybe with the expectations rolled back, the program can finally reach the Sweet Sixteen.

Big Wins: 12/4 at New Mexico State (79-70), 12/7 Cincinnati (64-54), 2/22 San Diego State (58-44)
Bad Losses: 12/17 New Mexico State (61-67), 1/15 UNLV (73-76), 2/12 at Boise State (70-71)
Coach: Craig Neal (1 season at New Mexico)

Why They Can Surprise:
Harvard played smarter than New Mexico in last year’s NCAA Tournament, in a basketball sense. The lack of experience was an issue. But now the Lobos have a likely starting five with all upperclassmen. Kendall Williams is having another amazing season and is averaging 16.4 points, 4.9 assists and 1.6 steals. Williams will make sure his team stays calm under the pressure of March. Cameron Bairstow has had an absolutely superb senior season. The 6-9, 250 pound forward boosted his numbers to 20.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. As if dealing with Bairstow is not tough enough for their opponents, seven-footer Alex Kirk averages 13.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.7 blocks.

Why They Can Disappoint:
New Mexico does not lack talent on the wings, yet the production has just not been there. Hugh Greenwood was supposed to step up this year, but it did not happen. Junior college transfer Deshawn Delaney has proven to be a great three-point shooter, but he averages just over five points per game. Cullen Neal is another capable outside shooter, but he too is not yet the dynamic scoring wing that New Mexico is used to having on the floor. Williams can carry the load on the perimeter, but the threat of another slasher would do wonders for the offense. Yet, the outside shooting ability of players like Neal and Delaney does give more space to Bairstow and Kirk in the paint and that is often enough for this team to win.
Probable Starters:
Kendall Williams, Senior, Guard, 16.4 ppg, 4.9 apg
Hugh Greenwood, Junior, Guard, 6.1 ppg, 3.5 apg, 5.1 rpg
Deshawn Delaney, Junior, Guard, 5.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg
Cameron Bairstow, Senior, Forward, 20.3 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.5 bpg
Alex Kirk, Junior, Center, 13.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.7 bpg

Key Roleplayers:
Merv Lindsay, Sophomore, Forward, 0.6 ppg, 1.1 rpg
Cullen Neal, Freshman, Guard, 7.2 ppg, 1.9 apg
Cleveland Thomas, Sophomore, Guard, 4.0 ppg

By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 74.5 (79th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Scoring Defense: 66.3 (76, 4)
Field-Goal Percentage: 45.9 (87, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 39.0 (10, 2)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.9 (204, 8)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.0 (181, 7)
Free-Throw Percentage: 72.4 (79, 5)
Rebound Margin: 5.1 (29, 3)
Assists Per Game: 15.5 (29, 2)
Turnovers Per Game: 10.4 (25, 6)

Recent Postseason Appearances:
2013    NCAA    Second Round loss to Harvard
2012    NCAA    Second Round win over Long Beach State
2012    NCAA    Third Round loss to Louisville
2011    NIT        First Round win over UTEP
2011    NIT        Second Round loss to Alabama
2010    NCAA    Round of 64 win over Montana
2010    NCAA    Round of 32 loss to Washington
2009    NIT        First Round win over Nebraska
2009    NIT        Second Round loss to Notre Dame
2008    NIT        First Round loss to California
2005    NCAA    Round of 64 loss to Villanova

*all team stats through 3/9


See All Men’s Basketball Postseason Capsules