The New Mexico Lobos and Harvard Crimson bring a contrast of styles to the floor as they meet in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
They will take court in Salt Lake City as the No. 3 vs No. 14 matchup.
New Mexico is 29-5 and clinched a spot in the Big Dance by winning the Mountain West Tournament with a 63-56 victory over UNLV.
Harvard is 19-9 and earned its ticket to March Madness by winning the Ivy League regular season championship. The conference does not play a tournament.
Where: Salt Lake City, Utah at EnergySolutions Arena
When: Thursday, March 21 at 9:50 p.m. ET
Betting Line: New Mexico -10.5 according to Wager Minds
*All injury information via USA Today.
Who will win this game?
Neither team has any injuries to report. New Mexico guard Demetrius Walker has been suspended indefinitely for unknown reasons.
What's at stake?
Their NCAA tournament lives, a shot at their one shining moment and everlasting glory.
What they're saying
Hoopsworld previews Harvard's biggest strengths and weaknesses.
As a team the Crimson play a very efficient brand of basketball, shooting 48 percent from the field and 40 percent from deep while scoring 68 a night. They were ranked just inside of the top 100 RPI with their biggest win coming at California. The Crimson doesn’t possess great size and were outrebounded by their opponents on the season. That, along with their subpar defense, could end up being their undoing in the tournament.
Sporting News talks about what could pose a threat to New Mexico.
As good as New Mexico is defensively (it is among the nation’s leaders in opponents’ shooting percentage and points allowed), it is strangely poor at defending beyond the 3-point arc and against uptempo offenses. In a win-or-go-home situation like the NCAA Tournament, a team with a hot outside shooter or an ability to run could have a devastating impact on the Lobos. Despite their balance, the Lobos don’t go much deeper than eight players and need Williams and Kirk to stay out of foul trouble.
Most important player to watch:
New Mexico guard Kendall Williams.
At 6'4", Kendall Williams is one of the tallest point guards in college basketball. He leads the Lobos in assists, but he can also get hot on any given night. On Feb. 23 he scored 46 points at Colorado State, hitting 10 threes. His size helps him to draw a considerable number of fouls; he averages nearly six free throws per game.
Key matchup: Battle of the Backcourts
These two teams both are led by their guards. Harvard's top four scorers—Wesley Saunders, Siyani Chambers, Laurent Rivard and Christian Webster—all play guard.
New Mexico's top two scorers, Williams and Tony Snell, play guard as well.
Due to its lack of big men, Harvard needs its guards to significantly outplay New Mexico's in order to win.
Prediction: New Mexico 74, Harvard 66
New Mexico has won nine of its last 10 games and played much better competition than Harvard. The Crimson will be too small to play with New Mexico.
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