Following is a brief look at the 2014-15 New Mexico State non conference games that I know of and some that I'm fuzzy on at this point.
It seems like both New Mexico and UTEP will have some big question marks next year, maybe even moreso than NMSU. Both teams have added several new players so trying to handicap them in June is difficult but perhaps Aggies fans can hope to catch them before they figure things out.
NMSU students will be in session for three of the four games, although not for the home game against the Lobos.
Outside of that, from what I know thus far, the Aggies schedule is shaping up once again as a quality schedule for the school now they have to take advantage with a win or two.
University of New Mexico:
NMSU at New Mexico; Dec. 3
New Mexico at NMSU: Dec. 20
When I look at New Mexico, it seems Craig Neal is hoping that transfers help his team remain competitive in the Mountain West. After losing the likes of Alford recruits Cam Bairstow, Alex Kirk and Kendall Williams, two of the Lobos best players next year should be junior college transfers Deshawn Delaney and Jordan Goodman. A third transfer, Butler guard Elijah Brown, will join the Lobos next season on the court. Delaney came on last year in the mid-late stages to average five points and four rebounds in 20 minutes per game. Now that the lane won't be clogged up with Kirk and Bairstow, Delaney should have more space to drive. The 6-9 Goodman was a junior college all american out of Harcum Colloge in Pennsylvania. I'm a big fan of senior Hugh Greenwood, not so much on sophomore Cullen Neal, which figures to be the starting backcourt. I'm sure the Lobos will play a faster pace and play considerably smaller next year with a big dropoff in the paint following Bairstow and Kirk.
NMSU at UTEP, Nov. 22:
UTEP at NMSU, Dec. 6:
I think it's possible to sweep the Miners again, unless one of the seven, SEVEN newcomers at UTEP is a stud. Most of them are guards with the top returners to me are Julian Washburn on the wing and Vince Hunter in the post. Aggies fans will also recognize UTEP big men 6-10 Cedrick Lang and 7-1 Matt Willms, who both appeared to me as space fillers last year. I'm sure there is more to the recruited players that Tim Floyd signed, but once again he appears to be rebuilding in El Paso.
Other non-conference opponents
At Wichita State, November 14
Shaky on this one, but if it turns out to be a season opener, it would start what I believe to be the Aggies most solid schedule from a mid-major standpoint. Games at Wichita State, Baylor and St. Mary's will all be extremely difficult, but it's not as harsh as some seasons, and more realistic for an upset than even last year's schedule with dates at Arizona and Gonzaga. Wichita State had four seniors on their 35-1 team from a year ago. They still return a talented group with Fred VanVleet and junior college all american Darius Carter.
At Saint Mary's, TBD ( possibly part of the ESPN 24-hours hoops marathon in mid-November)
NMSU had a nice little series against Saint Mary's in the past. Nice being the fact that Saint Mary's even came to Las Cruces. St. Mary's crushed NMSU in both games. But this is a single game as I understand it.
The best returner on the roster appears to be Brad Waldow, who averaged 15 points and 8 rebounds last year.
At Wyoming, Nov. 29
This is the first of a home-and-home series with the Cowboys slated to return to Las Cruces next year.
The Cowboys were ranked No. 312 in the country with 64.5 points per game. The Cowboys scored 1.03 points per possession last year. By contrast, NMSU averaged 1.12 points per possession. The Cowboys do have one of the better players in the Mountain West in forward Larry Nance Jr., who tore an ACL last year. Guard Josh Gordon is also a top returner for the Cowboys.
At Oral Roberts, December 13
This will be a return game as well for NMSU with Oral Roberts making a return trip to Las Cruces next year. Oral Roberts only had one senior from last year's team that went 10-8 in the Southland
At Baylor, December 17
Baylor was a balanced team last year with Canadian guard Kenny Cherry coming back.
This is a money game for the Aggies, but it's not in the same category as the road contest at No. 1 Arizona or even Gonzaga last year.
vs. Colorado State, December 27
Colorado State returns the Aggies away game from a year ago in which CSU guard Jon Octeus went the length of the court in the final seconds for an 85-83 victory in one of the games on the schedule that NMSU had a realistic chance of winning going into the contest. Octeus left the program, but the Rams return their best two players, JJ Avila, who killed the Aggies with 29 points from the four position, and guard Daniel Bejarano. But like the Aggies, the Rams roster had a lot of turnover in the offseason with five players leaving CSU. Among the new players, the most highly regarded seems to be guard Stanton Kidd, who sat out last year after transferring from North Carolina Central. This should be a winnable game for the Aggies, and to be honest, it needs to be an Aggie win.
Vs. UC-Irvine, January 3
This is a return game with the Aggies playing a game next year at Irvine. This was supposed to be a game featuring 7-5 Sim Bhullar and 7-6 Irvine sophomore Mamadou Ndiaye (7-6, 290 pounds, 8 ppg, 6.2 rpg 3 bpg (8th in NCAA) in 21 minutes per game as a freshman). Fans will have to settle instead for 7-3 Tanveer Bhullar, which I'm sure will suit both schools just fine. Irvine is a fine team at any rate, finishing 13-3 in the Big West last year. A solid home game for the Aggies.