New Mexico Basketball: Ball Dawgs Classic Preview, How To Stream & More

New Mexico Basketball: Ball Dawgs Classic Preview

The Lobos get things started with the Toledo Rockets late Tuesday night.

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The Lobos head on the road for a three-game stand in Feast Week Multi-team event, The Ball Dawgs Classic.

WHO: New Mexico (2-1, 0-0 in the MWC) vs. Toledo (3-0, 0-0 in the MAC), Rice (1-2, 0-0 in AAC) & Pepperdine (3-2, 0-0 in WCC)

WHEN: Tuesday November 21st-Friday November 24th

WHERE: The Dollar Loan Center, Henderson, NV

STREAM: FLO Hoops ($)

It’s that time of year folks, with the holidays heavily upon us college basketball fans are gearing up for maybe their favorite time of year not named March Madness, Feast Week.

The second to last week in November always provides quality basketball matchups in a variety of venues and cities almost daily. For the New Mexico Lobos that means picking up shop and making the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, NV their home for the holiday “break”.

This comes after the Lobos were taken down to the wire in their lone game of week two of the college basketball season by UT Arlington. New Mexico looked out of sorts that game and let foul trouble combined with nearly zero post defense create a nail biter in the Pit.

In his post-game interview Thursday night, Head Coach Richard Pitino acknowledged a lack of chemistry as one of the teams biggest issues at the moment.

“We know our best basketball is ahead of us. We’ve dealt with so many injuries, we’ve dealt with Nelly (Junior-Joseph) missing four crucial months of practice, we just have to find a way. This team will progress as the season goes on with so many new guys.” said Coach Pitino

“Although I am excited about the future of this team and program. We have eight new players and when you take a veteran like Jaelen House out, we’ll now you got a lot of new guys on the court. And we are not going to be perfect right now. You have to learn from every opportunity you get.”

Now they’ll gear up and head west for three games in four days against MAC title hopefuls Toledo, AAC newcomers Rice and Lorenzo Romar’s Pepperdine Waves. It’s a tough task, but aside for the chance to grab some quality wins over top-175 KenPom ranked teams. It’s a chance for this Lobo squad to find more team chemistry before a very tough homestand the following week.

Team previews below

Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.

Toledo Rockets

When:  Tuesday November 1st, 9:15 PM MT Tip-off

Line: KenPom, The Lobos are favored by 5 Points

The Rockets Breakdown

Longtime Rockets Coach Tod Kowalczyk has built a mid-west powerhouse at Toledo. With seven 1st place finishes in the MAC since taking over in 2010-2011, including last season. When the program posted a 16-2 conference record, securing the No. 1 seed in their conference tournament before eventually falling to their biggest challenger Kent State.

Coach Kowalczyk lost a few stars from that team, but as a program still utilizing talent development, the Rockets are back in the MAC title hunt once again.

Toledo heads to Henderson undefeated and looking to stay that way on the flight home. Toledo scores at a high rate (86.3 PPG, 51st nationally), knocks the three ball down at a high rate (44.4%, 9th nationally) and play strong defense without sending their opponents to the free throw line much (9.0 opposing FT attempts a game, 5th nationally).

Coach Kowalczyk has a deep team, with no player logging above thirty minutes a game and nine total playing double-digit minutes a game. Leading all of those players is Dante Maddox Jr., Toledo’s floor general. The junior guard is a 3-level scorer and maybe the team’s best three-point shooter (40% from deep). While also logging 3.7 APG & 2.3 SPG, helping contribute to Toledo’s 10.7 SPG, good enough for 27th in the country.

Another Rocket of note is leading scorer (15.7 PPG) and rebounder (6.7 RPG) Ra’Heim Moss. The Springfield, OH native makes his living inside the arc, logging 51.3% on 9.0 2-point field goals a game.

Last in Toledo’s player highlight pool is Tyler Cochran. The combo guard who is well traveled throughout the MAC is a bulldozer at 6-2 220. He also leads his team in steals, with 3.7 a game. Helping contribute to Toledo’s defensive perimeter wall.

These three players help highlight their backcourt strength, but as mentioned prior they are not alone. With five players nearly averaging double-digit point totals, the Lobos will have to play smart and aggressively to neutralize the Rocket’s bench depth. While also knocking down enough shots to avoid their opponent’s high caliber defense.

Prediction: New Mexico 77, Toledo 75

New Mexico had trouble putting away UT Arlington in the Pit and facing a team like Toledo in a neutral site game makes Tuesday night’s clash troublesome for coach Pitino’s still gelling squad.

Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.

Rice Owls

When: Wednesday November 22nd, 7:45 PM MT Tip-off

Line: KenPom, The Lobos are favored by 9 Points

The Owls Breakdown

Rice has made the jump from their longtime home in C-USA for new opportunities in the American. With the move, the Owls bring a squad with several key returners, top high school recruits & impact transfers. Seventh year head coach Scott Pera continues to put talented squads on the floor in Houston.

As the program posted many mid-standing finishes over the years in an evolving Conference-USA. Which ranked 10th in KenPom’s adjusted efficiency margin last season and proved to be an absolute dog fight in conference play. But with new horizons come new expectations and Scott Pera’s program is having growing pains in their first couple of weeks of the season.

As the Owls are 1-2 through three games, after falling to No. 19 Texas, 80-64, on the road last Wednesday in Austin. Currently being led by Gardner-Webb transfer Anthony Selden, who didn’t shy away from the lights in a Big 12 arena in that clash. Dropping 17 points on the Longhorns and leading the team in scoring with 13.0 PPG, while shooting 42.9% from deep, 83.3% from the line & 56.5% from the floor overall.

The Owls also did very well this offseason in keeping their roster together. Only losing leading scorer Quincy Olivari to the Big East, other than that all four remaining starters returned to Houston this offseason.

Along with super sophomore Makhi Mason, who had an impactful freshman season as a three-level scorer. Coach Pera also returned his floor general from last season in senior Travis Evee, who averaged 15.6 PPG last season but has struggled in the Owls’ first three games. Averaging 10.7 PPG, while shooting just 27.3% from the floor & an awful 20% from deep on five attempts a game. When Evee figures his shot out this season Rice is immediately a better team.

Though maybe the most important piece to the Owls’ offensive creation is 6’11 230 big man Max Fiedler. The senior forward leads his team with 5.3 APG, while posting only 2.0 turnovers a game. This while chipping in 12.0 PPG & grabbing 8.0 RPG (another team-high). The all-CUSA big man could be the difference maker for the Owls, given the Lobos’ track record of frontcourt defense of late.

Coach Pera has a Owl squad with plenty of size and length, an issue at times for New Mexico as they boast a small ball lineup. If Rice gets a bench boost from returning starter Cameron Sheffield, who missed the team’s first three games of the season with a foot injury. Defend the Lobos & knock down their three-point attempts, they can enjoy their Thanksgiving meal with the upset W.

Prediction: New Mexico 85, Rice 76

We’ll stick with the KenPom predicted 9 point advantage the Lobos have heading into this one on Wednesday. The Owls could prove tricky to handle for New Mexico, especially given the dangerous offensive weapon & catalyst Max Fiedler can be in the post.

This may be a closer contest but Rice hasn’t necessarily figured out their offensive attack thus far in the season. I see the Lobos with the scoring advantage at the moment and that could be enough to secure the win in day two of the Ball Dawgs Classic.

Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.

Pepperdine Waves

When: Friday November 24th, 4:45 PM MT Tip-off

Line: KenPom, The Lobos are favored by 8 Points

The Waves Breakdown

After spending fifteen years in Seattle at Washington, Lorenzo Romar found employment in the seaside community of Malibu, CA at Pepperdine. Coach Romar has not found much success in one of the countries toughest conferences. With his best finish (4th) coming back in 2020-2021 and nothing coming close since.

Just look at last season, with an NBA Draft pick in Maxwell Lewis, all-WCC selection Jevon Porter and four double-digit scorers making up a top-50 scoring offense in the country. The Waves still struggled, finishing 9-22 (2-14 , 10th in the WCC).

Coach Romar’s program has similar expectations to go along with similar talented players this season. And even though they fail to put it all together at times, they have a dangerous roster with high level scorers who could create nightmares for New Mexico defensively.

Pepperdine has tremendous size this season but hasn’t gotten the chance to use it. Like New Mexico the Waves have been impacted by early season injuries to former USC transfer Boubacar Coulibaly & preseason all-WCC selection Jevon Porter. Both have been out with undisclosed injuries through the Waves’ first five games.

In their place Pepperdine are being led by all-WCC preseason selection Houston Mallette, who is pouring in 20.8 PPG as a natural scorer. The 6-5 wing is absolutely hot at the moment, shooting 45.7% from the field, 83.3% from the free throw line and an impressive 50% from deep. He is joined in the scoring column by 6-7 JUCO transfer Michael Ajayi, who is averaging a double-double with 17.2 PPG & 11.2 RPG and boasting similar shooting averages (47.9% from the floor, 80% from the stripe & 60% from deep).

Pepperdine once again has pro-level talent on their roster. Not to mention a high scoring duo and the size advantage over the Lobos in the backcourt. There may not be too much faith or recent successful history surrounding the Waves program but this roster is dangerous.

Prediction: New Mexico 82, Pepperdine 74

If the Waves can utilize their highly anticipated frontcourt on Friday then this prediction could change. Having players like Coulibaly & Porter available against a Lobo team that isn’t that deep in the frontcourt could give Pepperdine the advantage. But even if they are available, game ready and impactful are two very different things, especially after injury.

Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire