NCAA Tournament: No. 11 New Mexico vs. No. 6 Clemson: Keys To A Lobos Win, Live Stream Odds

NCAA Tournament: No. 11 New Mexico vs. No. 6 Clemson: Keys To A Lobos Win, Live Stream Odds

Lobos take on the Tigers from the ACC

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Can New Mexico upset Clemson

How to watch:  New Mexico (26-9, 10-8 MWC)  vs. Clemson ( 21-11, 11-9 ACC)

Listen: 77KOB local Albuq. or stream via Westwood One

What: West Region, First Round

Tipoff time: 1:10 MST 3:10 pm ET Friday

TV: truTV  

Stream: MarchMadness App

Location: Memphis

The Mountain West champion New Mexico men’s basketball team will begin play at the 2024 NCAA Tournament on Friday with a first-round matchup against Clemson. 

The 11-seeded Lobos and 6th-seeded Tigers will tip off at 2:10 pm CT (1:10 pm MT) at the FedEx Forum. The game will air on TruTV, Westwood One Radio, and the Lobo Radio Network.

In the 2024 March Madness bracket opening round, two teams with recent NCAA Tournament droughts face off, promising to break their dry spells as they vie for advancement to the second round. 

Clemson and New Mexico square off in an East Region clash, each carrying contrasting tales from their respective conference tournaments.

A matchup might be off if the NCAA Selection Committee seems to have missed the mark, as our model suggests New Mexico outperforms Clemson despite being seeded lower by five spots, with a notable 1.9 points per 100 possessions advantage.

To add to this point Ken Pomeroy’s numbers also lean towards the Lobos being 2 points better team on the court. 

The Lobos have posted a strong 26-9 record this season, securing their first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade after a remarkable victory in last week’s Mountain West Tournament held in Las Vegas.

 Notably, UNM achieved a historic feat by becoming the first team in conference history to clinch the title with four consecutive wins in as many days. 

Starting as the 6th seed, they triumphed over Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, and San Diego State within a tight 70-hour window in Las Vegas to clinch their fifth Mountain West Conference Championship. 

Jaelen House named the Mountain West Tournament MVP, showcased stellar performance by tallying an impressive 92 points throughout these four victories, marking the second-highest point total in Mountain West Tournament history.

 Accompanying House, JT Toppin contributed with a pair of double-doubles. At the same time, Jamal Mashburn, Jr. notably scored 21 points in the final against San Diego State, earning spots for both players on the All-Tournament Team.

On the other side, Clemson boasts a 21-11 record this season, finishing sixth in the ACC with an 11-9 standing. 

However, their journey in the ACC Tournament ended on a sour note with a 76-55 defeat to Boston College in the second round held in Washington, D.C. 

The Tigers are led by first-team All-ACC forward PJ Hall, who maintains an impressive average of 18.8 points per game.

This upcoming game marks the first-ever encounter between New Mexico and Clemson. Additionally, it will be the Lobos’ first appearance in Memphis since their defeat to Memphis in the 2001 NIT Quarterfinals.

Having secured their 16th NCAA Tournament appearance, the Lobos are eager to make their mark, aiming for their first tournament win since their victory over Long Beach State in the first round of the 2012 tournament.

The victor of this game will progress to the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Sunday, facing off against the winner between the No. 3 seed Baylor and No. 14 seed Colgate matchup. 

Many so-called experts are touting New Mexico as a potential Cinderella not because of any flashy underdog traits but because they’re a strong team whose close losses towards the end of the season led to many bracketologists underestimating them.

Interestingly, the selection committee might have inadvertently favored the Lobos by assigning them the 11th seed despite their conference tournament win. 

While the No. 12 seed upsetting the No. 5 seed is commonly seen as the classic upset pick in the NCAA Tournament, statistics reveal that the No. 11 seed has pulled off this feat five times more overall.

This has resulted in 58 upset victories since the tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1985. which convincingly defeated No. 6 seed Iowa State by 18 points despite being considered a 5-point underdog.

On the other hand, Clemson fits the bill of a “Generic Giant” – a team that earns high seeds without excelling in rebounding or turnover categories, heavily relying on shooting instead. 

This leaves them susceptible to off-nights and opponents capable of mounting strong runs.

 Delving deeper into the matchup, I see that the statistics don’t bode well for Clemson against teams like New Mexico, which is known for its strong offensive rebounding.

Our historical data from 2007 shows that lower-seeded teams with such strengths have upset “Generic Giants” like Clemson in 52% of matchups. 

Moreover, in 6-11 matchups involving such teams, the higher seed has lost a staggering 73% of the time (16 out of 22 games).

All signs point towards an upset brewing, a sentiment echoed by betting markets already tilting towards the Lobos, much like Slingshot’s prediction.

Under Richard Pitino’s guidance, the Lobos have emerged as an entertaining group, featuring seasoned guard Jaelen House – a seasoned thief on the court with his 4.4% steal rate.

Alongside him is freshman forward JT Toppin, known for his prowess inside the paint. They shouldn’t have had to snatch a bid to secure their spot in the tournament, but now that they’re in, they’re poised for an exciting dance.

After their last game on March 13, Clemson head coach Brad Brownell’s squad returns to Memphis, ready to take on Richard Pitino’s team.

This marks Clemson’s 14th entry into March Madness. While they haven’t reached the Final Four, they boast an Elite Eight appearance in 1980 and have made the Sweet 16 four times in 1980, 1990, 1997, and 2018.

This marks New Mexico’s 16th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and their first since 2014. 

With eight tournament victories to their name, their last win dates back to 2012, when they defeated Long Beach State in the round of 64 before bowing out to Louisville.

Clemson (21-11), finishing with an 11-9 record in the ACC this season, comes into the tournament following a loss to Boston College in the ACC Tournament’s second round.

This matchup will mark the inaugural meeting between the Lobos and Clemson. Despite being considered an upset based on seeding, statistical analysis suggests that New Mexico’s slight favoritism of 1.5 points is justified.

Analyzing the matchup reveals discrepancies in the seeding, indicating that New Mexico is statistically stronger than Clemson despite being ranked lower.

 The Lobos have been identified as a potential Cinderella team due to their overall strength and undervaluation by many bracketologists.

If you have never seen this team this year, they are one of the most electric teams in the country.

 They have three dynamic guards who can flat-out make plays: Donovan Dent, Jamal Mashburn, and Jaelen House, who set the high tempo of the Lobos. 

 Complemented by JT Toppin and Nelly Jr Joseph, along with the addition of Mustapha Amzil, a transfer from Dayton, off the bench, they possess a well-rounded lineup capable of making a deep tournament run.

The Mountain West Conference Freshman of the Year, JT Toppin, who has been dominant in the paint, has been named MWC Freshman of the Week over nine times this year. 

 Notably, the selection committee possibly did them a favor by assigning them the 11th seed.

 Clemson presents as a Generic Giant, heavily reliant on shooting and susceptible to off nights, making them vulnerable to teams like New Mexico.

Considering historical data and statistical similarities, the odds favor New Mexico to pull off the upset.

 Led by standout players like Jaelen House and JT Toppin, the Lobos are primed for an exciting tournament run.

The Tigers Numbers: 

  • NET ranking: 35

  • KenPom ranking: 34

  • Quad 1 record: 5-5

  • Quad 2 record: 5-5

  • Quad 3 record: 6-1

  • Quad 4 record: 5-0

  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 27

  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 67

Key players

PJ Hall, C, Sr. (6-10, 238): 18.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.6 bpg

Joseph Girard III, G, Sr. (6-2, 189): 15.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.8 apg

Chase Hunter, G, Sr. (6-4, 200): 12.3 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.4 rpg

Ian Schieffelin, F, Jr. (6-8, 238): 9.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.3 apg

Jack Clark, F, Sr. (6-10, 207): 4.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.3 apg

The Lobos  Numbers: 

Key players

  • NET ranking: 22

  • KenPom ranking: 23

  • Quad 1 record: 5-6

  • Quad 2 record: 3-1

  • Quad 3 record: 7-1

  • Quad 4 record: 10-1

  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 41

  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 23

Jaelen House, G, Sr. (6-0, 170): 16.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.5 apg

Donovan Dent, G, Soph. (6-2, 170): 14.3 ppg, 5.6 apg, 2.5 rpg

Jamal Mashburn Jr., G, Sr. (6-2, 195): 14.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.5 apg

JT Toppin, F, Fr. (6-9, 210): 12.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.9 bpg

Roger Holien covers NCAA college Basketball & Football as a writer for Mountain West Wire. He has been involved in New Mexico’s sports teams, including football and basketball, for 25 years. He also does play-by-play & color commentary for the NFHS (Proview Networks) covering New Mexico High School Sports. 

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire