The Daily Aggie :: 03/20/15

The New Mexico State men's basketball team will face the Kansas Jayhawks, the No. 2 seed in the Midwest, today at 11:15 a.m. CDT in the NCAA Tournament. For the Aggies it will be their fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament as they look to break through in the win column. It will be a tough task but certainly not an impossible one.

The Aggies appeared relaxed and confident in yesterday's press conference and didn't show too many signs of being overwhelmed by the stage, as they shouldn't be coming into their fourth consecutive NCAA appearance.

The question becomes, how will that translate when the team steps out onto the court today? Kansas is relatively inexperienced in terms of key players with tournament experience, however, this Kansas team played the toughest non-confernece schedule in the country and navigated through the Big 12 to win another regular season title, arguably the toughest conference in the country (yesterday's tournament results notwithstanding). KU head coach Bill Self addressed the topic yesterday saying, "The things that we bring to the table from an intangible standpoint is that we're too young that we may not know, and sometimes that's the best way to do it, too."

So what can the Aggies do today to spring the upset? First and foremost it's important for the Aggies to get off to a good start offensively. This has been a bit of an issue for them in the past couple of tournaments. Against San Diego State last year the Aggies only had 14 points through the first 16 minutes of the game and only 20 at halftime. In the loss to Saint Louis the year prior, the Aggies only scored eight points through the first 14 minutes and had just 16 points at halftime.

If the Aggies continue that trend, they will not win this game.

Second, and this is the case with nearly all upsets in the tournament by mid-majors, the three point arc. The Aggies need to make at least six or seven three pointers in this game and they need to keep KU's three point shooters under wraps. The Aggies have done a good job this season guarding the three point arc, however, KU has four different shooters who have made at least 30 threes each and even though KU forward Perry Ellis is more of a threat down in the post, he can step out and hit the occasional three pointer having attempted 44 threes while making 17.

Finally, the Aggie need to finish plays around the basket. In the losses to Michigan State, Saint Louis and San Diego State, the Aggies missed numerous shots around the basket that they normally make. In the Saint Louis and San Diego State game, we believe those were directly attributable to the physical play inside of the Billikens and the Aztecs in combination with a fairly loose officiating whistle. The Aggies need to be able to finish through contact today because this is going to be a physical game down in the paint.

If the Aggies can manage those three keys in addition to a couple of other keys mentioned by Jason Groves, the Aggies have a strong chance to pull off an upset.

The Daily Aggie :: 03/18/15 :: NCAA Tournament Links

The New Mexico State men's team will leave El Paso at roughly 1 p.m. today to head to Omaha where their team hotel awaits.

More photos from around the team hotel can be seen here in our gallery.

Here are a few NCAA Tournament related links as both the Aggie men and women get ready for their respective opponents.

Men's Basketball
Mark Rudi of the Las Cruces Sun-News writes that the Aggies' defense will be the key on Friday against the Kansas Jayhawks.

Steve Ramirez of the Las Cruces Sun-News notes that it won't be cheap for Aggie fans to travel to see either the men's or women's team play at their respective NCAA Tournament sites.

Kansas head coach Bill Self appeared on ESPN's Mike And Mike radio show this morning. You can listen to that segment of the show here.

Matt Tait from the Lawrence World-Journal writes about KU sophomore Brannen Greene's shooting woes.

Matt Tait also pens a story on Aggie head coach Marvin Menzies and his mentors.

The Associated Press discusses Kansas' extra day of rest entering the NCAA Tournament on Friday.

Women's Basketball
Childs Walker from the Baltimore Sun discusses Maryland and their No. 1 seed in the tournament.

Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News discusses the rarity of upsets in the NCAA Tournament on the women's side.

Mark Rudi of the Las Cruces Sun-News gets thoughts from the Aggies on their matchup with top seed Maryland.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Aggies Get Top Seed Maryland In 1st Round Of NCAA Tournament

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

LAS CRUCES, N.M. - The New Mexico State women’s basketball team is officially dancing for the first time in 27 years as the Western Athletic Conference regular season and tournament champions were selected by the NCAA Tournament Committee as a 16th seed in the NCAA Tournament and will face the No. 1 seed Maryland Terrapins in the Spokane Region.

The Aggies (22-7, 13-1 WAC) meet Maryland (30-2, 18-0 Big 10) in College Park, Md., on Saturday, Mar. 21, beginning at 10:30 a.m. (MDT) inside the XFINITY Center. If NM State should pull the upset they will play on Monday at the XFINITY Center against the winner of the Princeton-Green Bay matchup.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Fiana Finau Named WAC Hitter Of The Week

Written By: WAC Media Relations

DENVER, CO - New Mexico State’s Fiana Finau has been named the Western Athletic Conference Hitter of the Week for March 9-15. This is the first honor of the season and third of her career for Finau.

Finau, a junior from Chula Vista, Calif., finished with a .444 batting average, a 1.000 slugging percentage and a .524 on-base percentage in six games last week, posting a double, three home runs, 11 RBIs and a stolen base. Finau began the week by slamming a home run and finishing with three RBIs against Middle Tennessee. She then went 3-for-4 with two RBIs vs. Harvard. Finau’s big game of the week came in the final one of the weekend, a 14-0 Aggie victory over San Jose State. She finished 2-for-3 against the Spartans with two home runs, three runs scored and six RBIs.

The Daily Aggie :: 03/16/15 :: A Closer Look At The Aggies' Seeding

It's been quite a while since we've filed a blog post but with the announcement of the 2015 NCAA Tournament field and the general disappointment/outcry over the Aggies' 15-seed (which happens to be the lowest the Aggies have ever been seeded), we thought it'd be a good time to take a look at the resumes of the teams that received 13, 14 and 15 seeds (or as we'll refer to it -- "Why you probably shouldn't think the Aggies got hosed by the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee")

We've felt since the conclusion of non-conference play that the Aggies were probably not getting anything better than a 15 seed and their weak non-conference resume (notice that we said resume and not schedule) and lack of quality wins was going to be the culprit.

First, to be fair, the Aggies had a schedule that was capable of netting them as high as an 11 or 12 seed had they simply won games in the non-conference and realistically, had done any one or two of the following: beaten Colorado State, Wyoming (in the tournament) or St. Mary's (RPI 72), held on against UTEP, split with UNM and not lost to Oral Roberts, they'd probably be looking at a 13 seed right now instead of staring down the beak of a Jayhawk.

Second, obviously not having Chili Nephawe or Daniel Mullings for a significant stretch of non-conference games did not help their cause either. Some might point to the injuries and wonder why the NCAA Selection committee did not give the Aggies the benefit of the doubt. The fact of the matter is that once you drop past a certain point (most likely an 8 or 9 seed) the NCAA selection committee probably doesn't even take into account what injuries/suspensions/etc. you may or may not have dealt with. The fact of the matter is that teams on the lower end of the seeding process probably don't get the scrutiny that teams at the higher end of the seeding list get, particularly ones that play in a single-bid league such as the WAC, Big Sky, Big West, Southland, etc.

So, with that being said, let's take a look at the numbers. Below is a list of the teams that garnered the 13, 14 and 15 seeds. The team names are prefaced by the NCAA's ranking on their 1-68 ranking along with their unofficial RPI (via Basketball State) in parenthesis.

13 SEEDS

51. Valparaiso (RPI 57)
11-3 vs. teams in the RPI Top 200 (7 non-conference wins)
8-2 vs. 101-200 (3-1 on the road, 1-0 neutral, 5-1 non-conference)
3-1 vs. 51-100 (0-1 on the road, 1-0 neutral, 2-0 non-conference)
0-0 vs 1-50

52. Harvard (RPI 51)
11-6 vs. teams in the RPI Top 200 (4 non-conference wins)
7-3 vs. 101-200 (4-1 on the road, 0-1 neutral, 2-2 non-conference)
4-2 vs. 51-100 (1-1 on the road, 1-0 neutral, 2-1 non-conference)
0-1 vs. 1-50

53. Eastern Washington (RPI 81)
7-7 vs. teams in the RPI Top 200 (5 non-conference wins)
6-4 vs. 101-200 (3-3 on the road, 4-1 non-conference)
1-2 vs. 51-100 (1-2 on the road, 1-2 non-conference)
0-1 vs. 1-50

54. UC Irvine (RPI 87)
8-9 vs. teams in the RPI Top 200 (4 non-conference wins)
5-4 vs. 101-200 (2-2 on the road, 1-0 neutral, 2-3 non-conference)
3-3 vs. 51-100 (0-2 on the road, 2-0 neutral, 2-1 non-conference)
0-2 vs. 1-50

14 SEEDS

55. Georgia State (RPI 67)
9-5 vs. teams in the RPI Top 200 (3 non-conference wins)
8-2 vs. 101-200 (3-2 on the road, 1-0 neutral, 2-0 non-conference)
1-1 vs. 51-100 (0-1 on the road, 1-1 non-conference)
0-3 vs. 1-50

56. Northeastern (RPI 85)
12-6 vs. teams in the RPI Top 200 (7 non-conference wins)
9-2 vs. 101-200 (3-1 on the road, 3-0 neutral, 5-0 non-conference)
3-4 vs. 51-100 (1-4 on the road, 1-0 neutral, 2-3 non-conference)
0-0 vs. 1-50

57. UAB (RPI 130)
8-10 vs. teams in the RPI Top 200 (3 non-conference wins)
5-2 vs. 101-200 (1-1 on the road, 2-0 neutral, 2-2 non-conference)
2-5 vs. 51-100 (0-2 on the road, 1-1 neutral, 1-3 non-conference)
1-3 vs. 1-50 (0-1 on the road, 0-2 neutral)

58. Albany (RPI 104)
10-5 vs. teams in the RPI Top 200 (6 non-conference wins)
8-5 vs. 101-200 (4-3 on the road, 5-4 non-conference)
1-0 vs. 51-100 (1-0 on the road, 1-0 non-conference)
0-1 vs. 1-50

15 SEEDS

59. New Mexico State (RPI 108)
3-9 vs. teams in the RPI Top 200 (3 non-conference wins)
1-3 vs. 101-200 (0-2 on the road, 1-3 non-conference)
2-3 vs. 51-100 (0-3 on the road, 2-3 non-conference)
0-3 vs. 1-50

60. Belmont (RPI 110)
7-6 vs. teams in the RPI Top 200 (5 non-conference wins)
6-3 vs. 101-200 (1-2 on the road, 2-0 neutral, 4-1 non-conference)
1-1 vs. 51-100 (0-1 on the road, 1-0 neutral, 1-0 non-conference)
0-2 vs. 1-50

61. Texas Southern (RPI 118)
2-10 vs. teams in the RPI Top 200 (2 non-conference wins)
0-3 vs. 101-200 (0-3 on the road)
1-4 vs. 51-100 (1-4 on the road, 1-4 non-conference)
1-3 vs. 1-50 (1-3 on the road, 1-3 non-conference)

62. North Dakota State (RPI 96)
5-6 vs. teams in the RPI Top 200 (3 non-conference wins)
5-3 vs. 101-200 (0-3 on the road, 2-0 neutral, 3-1 non-conference)
0-1 vs. 51-100 (0-1 neutral)
0-2 vs. 1-50

The thing you'll notice is that of the 12 teams listed here, only New Mexico State and North Dakota State do not have at least one win on the road/neutral against a team in the RPI Top 200.

Some might question why UAB received a 14-seed while the Aggies with a better record were given a 15-seed and that's a valid question, particularly with UAB's RPI at 130 and the Aggies' RPI at 108. Again, it comes down to "quality wins" or the lack thereof and specifically road wins. The Aggies were 0-5 on the road against the RPI Top 200, UAB was 4-7 vs. the RPI Top 200 on the road/neutral and also picked up a Top 50 RPI win at home. Overall, UAB was 8-10 vs. the RPI Top 200 and the Aggies were just 3-9.

The Aggies' resume also doesn't stack up to the other 14 seeds in terms of quality road wins and quality non-conference wins. Consider this quote from NCAA Tournament Selection Committee Chair Scott Barnes when addressing Colorado State's exclusion from the tournament: "Then the lack of any true road wins against teams in the top 100 was also a factor.” In the case of New Mexico State, that number is zero whereas three of the four teams on the 14-seed line have one road or neutral Top 100 win, the exception being Georgia State whose RPI is nearly 50 spots better than New Mexico State's.

While it's certainly disappointing for the Aggie fans, players and coaches, it's pretty simple when you compare the numbers to see why the Aggies were given the seed that they were given.

The game against Kansas is a daunting task but it's called March Madness for a reason. The game is played on the court and not on paper which is why no matter what the seed, there's always a chance.  Continue Reading This Post >>

Aggie Softball Defeats San Jose State 14-0

Written By: NM State Athletic Dept.

SAN DIEGO, CA - The New Mexico State softball team defeated the No. 17 nationally ranked offense San Jose State Spartans 14-0, allowing only two hits in the final game of the San Diego State Classic this weekend.

Fiana Finau led the charge in the first two innings of the game with a pair of three run home runs for the Aggies. Finau currently leads the team in home runs on the season, marking nine followed by Staci Rodriguez just behind at eight.

NM State continued to dominate the competition, scoring runs in all but the fifth inning.

“I thought our offense set the tone early and did a great job of attacking their plan,” head coach Kathy Rodolph said. “We had another solid day defensively. Karysta Donisthorpe held a nationally ranked offense to two hits, and Makayla McAdams did a nice job of closing things out.”  Continue Reading This Post >>