Featured Video from Scott Reichel
The New Mexico State Aggies have landed the all-dangerous 12-seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAA Tournament, and they’ll get to face an Auburn Tigers team in Salt Lake City, Utah, at Vivent Arena to start off the madness!
The 11:30 a.m. MT tip-off on Thursday morning in Utah brings two programs together that each won their respective Conference Tournament titles, as New Mexico State simply plowed through the WAC with a 15 – 1 conference record to go along with a 30-win campaign under head coach Chris Jans.
The Auburn Tigers upset Tennessee in the SEC Tournament title game to land the 5-seed in the Midwest Region, as they navigated their way to a 26 – 9 record under head coach Bruce Pearl. Pearl spent many a year with the Vols from 2005 – 11, so that win probably suited him just fine, especially with the campaign Tennessee put together this year.
The Tigers arrive to this party at 6.5-point favorites over the Aggies, and the line setters have issued a 143 on the total, so let’s get to the court and make some money!
Aggies Hoping To Avoid Another Early Exit Under Coach Jans
The Aggies find themselves in familiar territory, as head coach Chris Jans repeated last year’s feat of first taking the regular season and then going on to take the conference tourney title as well.
— NM State MBB (@NMStateMBB) March 18, 2019
New Mexico State landed Clemson in last year’s big dance, and a 79 – 68 loss left the Aggies looking to this season, and what a campaign it was.
The Aggies nailed home 30 wins this year, and coach Jans has simply come to Las Cruces, N.M and made quite an impression continuing to build a program that has found no less than 20 wins over the last 8 years under 3 different head coaches.
Marvin Menzies and Paul Weir each had plenty of success at New Mexico State from 2007 to 2016, as Weir took over for the one 2016 season after Menzies left for greener pastures with UNLV, and Weir left to coach at rival New Mexico. Jans came in and has obviously gotten his kids to respond, and this team is close and out to get their first NCAA Tournament win since 2014 under Menzies.
The Aggies only losses this season came at the hands of St. Mary’s Kansas and Drake, although that 4th loss really stunned everyone when they lost to Cal Baptist on January 3.
Well, it didn’t stun the Aggies too much apparently, because I don’t know where you were on January 3 as the New Year was starting, but that’s the last time this team lost a damn game at all!
Hello 19-game winning streak coming into the big dance!
Terrell Brown leads the Aggies putting up 11.3 PPG, and he is the team’s only player who averaged double-digits for the season. Brown had a rough outing in the WAC Tournament title game with only 9 points, although he converted 43% of his attempt from behind the arc this year.
Eli Chuha, who sits second on the team bringing in 9.8 PPG, only landed 4 points in the WAC title game against Grand Canyon missing his only shot from distance on a 2 of 4 shooting night.
The Aggies defense ranks 26th in the land allowing 64.1 PPG, and they sit 55th in the nation scoring 78.1 PPG.
This team is deep, has experience, and will give the Tigers all they can handle as a 12-seed to start the big dance!
Tigers On A High After Taking SEC Tourney Title
I don’t think there was much doubt that Auburn had done enough to gain an At-Large bid to the big dance, but the hell with wondering about it when you can just go out and win the SEC Tournament Title instead and automatically secure the path!
What a job Bruce Pearl has done, and obviously, getting to beat Tennessee in the SEC Tourney final game likely made his insides dying to yell out, ‘I told ya so’! We know how much he enjoyed his tenure with the Vols, and we all know the circumstances as to his dismissal, so let’s pass on all that conversation today and stick to the on-the-court stuff.
After taking a few years away from the game, Pearl latched on with Auburn and although it took 4 season’s to finally gain any type of post-season entry, he has now secured back-to-back 26-win campaigns with a second straight entry to the big dance.
We came. We saw. We conquered.
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) March 17, 2019
Ironically, after Clemson beat New Mexico State in their first-round meeting in last year’s NCAA Tournament, Auburn was Clemson’s next victim as they, too, were knocked out by the ‘other’ Tigers in San Diego.
This year’s Tigers ended the regular season 26 – 9 while coming away with an 11 – 7 SEC record, as they went into the conference tourney as the 3 seed and obviously came home with a trophy after winning it all.
Senior guard Bryce Brown led the Tigers averaging 15.8 PPG just ahead of his back-court mate junior Jared Harper who took in 15.2 PPG. Harper finds his teammates to hand out 5.8 assists a game while Brown dishes out just about 2 per contest.
The Tigers put up 79.6 PPG this season, which has them ranked 35th in the country while their 37.6% from distance has them sitting 38th in the land.
Rebounding is where the Tigers might get in trouble tonight, as they sit 225th in the country on the offensive glass (34.6) and 162nd on the other side of the floor (31.5).
• Over is 7-3 in Tigers last 10 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
• Tigers are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 non-conference games.
• Tigers are 4-11 ATS in their last 15 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
• Aggies are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 non-conference games.
• Aggies are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
• Over is 5-1 in Aggies last 6 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
You go ahead and give me nearly a touchdown with this defense and the roll that the Aggies are on right now to boot.
I get Auburn went nuts in the SEC Tourney, but this Aggies team has zero fear and the experience to hang all night long with Auburn, win or lose.
Prediction: N. Mexico State +6.5
Full-Game Total Pick
I moved this up to 4* because I almost fell off my chair when I saw 143.
I mean really? Way too low for me and these two offenses, although the New Mexico State defense could slow it down, but not enough.
77 – 75 and I don’t care who wins because that puts me on the dog and the Over regardless.
Prediction: Over 143