Friday, September 17, 2010

A ridiculously early prediction blog entry

Last year around this time, the talk surrounding the New Mexico State men's basketball team was about who wasn't going to be around rather than excitement about the upcoming season.

I think this is the best schedule the Aggies have had under Menzies. They play Arizona UMass and USC on the road in a four-day period in November.

The schedule his first year included games at Duke and Louisville, where even if the Aggies weren't shorthanded because of eligibility, winning those games would have been a challenge. They also played Texas and West Virginia on a neutral court.

This year's neutral court games (UMass on Nov. 20 and USC on Nov. 21 in Springfield) are more manageable, and playing at Arizona on Nov. 18 isn't a guaranteed win for Arizona. Perhaps the game I'm looking forward to the most is the Dec. 23 game against St. Mary's at the Pan Am. St. Mary's has most of their guards back from a  year ago, but they lost their man in the middle.

I have the Aggies finishing 25-6.

They start 2-0 and lose a competitive game at Arizona. I think it's important for the Aggies to get one of the two games in Springfield both for confidence level and RPI for later on. Lets say they split and come  home at 3-2.

UTEP is loaded and UNM is going to have to replace two big pieces from a year ago. But I've  never seen an Aggies team compete at the Pit so a split in these four games is conservative. I think a sweep of the Lobos is entirely possible with this group of juniors and seniors, but I have the Aggies at 5-4 entering a five game home stand.

The Aggies close out the home stand with a close win over St. Mary's to move to 10-4 entering WAC play.

I think the popular belief is that the WAC is going to be a two-horse race between Utah State and NMSU. But Boise State will be better so that second game is going to be tough, but I think the Aggies open conference play 5-0 entering the Nevada/Utah State road swing Jan. 20 and Jan. 22.

NMSU has shown they can win at Nevada in the past couple years on that court. I think they split that road trip with a loss at Utah State to move to 6-1 in the league and 16-5 overall.

The Aggies return home for home wins against Boise and Idaho. There is always a game the Aggies don't show up at on the road. Last year it was Fresno. This year I think it's Fresno. They beat La. Tech twice within a week to enter the BracketBuster 10-2 in the WAC and 20-6.

Hopefully they get someone fun instead of a Big West opponent...again. They win in the Pan Am to go 21-6. NMSU always hopes for a split on the tough SJSU, Hawaii road trip. They sweep it this year. I've been waiting for San Jose State for three years and I think I'm giving up on them, but it's a tough game the Aggies pull out.

NMSU beats Utah State and completes a rare sweep of Nevada to finish the regular season 25-6 and 14-2 in the WAC.

I worry about road games at Nevada, Boise and San Jose State, but even losing those, the Aggies should finish over 20 wins with a veteran team that should be able to wear down WAC opponents in the paint.


Anonymous said...

I'm an Aggie fan, but I'll believe your prediction when I see it. I have the following questions:

First, will the Aggies have a complete complement of players? Nothing like playing shorthanded due to insufficient grades, injuries, forgotten passports, getting lost in the fog, etc.

Second, will the Aggies finally beat the teams they are supposed to beat? It seem like every year, not counting the lower division fodder regularly scheduled, the team falls to inferior competition. There's plenty of that in the WAC this year that the Aggies can lose to.

Third, will Menzies actually do enough of a coaching job to get the team to 25 wins? He's getting better I think, but has he finally arrived?

Anyway, my two pesos...

Anonymous said...

Good stuff here.

If your prediction holds do you think this gets them an at large birth?

If they beat USC and UMASS on the neutral court, and they pick up a split with UTEP and UNM, they could get an at large assuming they lose in the title game in Vegas against the other Aggies.

I think the absence of JY could be a good thing. I figured he'd do something stupid this year anyway to disrupt the team. At least they know they don't have to worry about him. He was a big time scorer though. Look for the senior Gordo to finally have his BIG year.

Gillenwater and Wen are a problem for every team in the country. Not to mention Rahman's progress (he owned Mich St. in the 2nd half). Oh and Laroche will better with another solid year under his belt. Hope another 2 guard steps up.

Should be fun. I'm excited. It really is the best show in Cruces. Not sure why locals continue to complain.

Anonymous said...

There is thinking and postulating and then there is reality and the two are usually very different.

That is what makes it so much fun.

Having said that, I can see Jason's prediction more or less coming true. I see one extra boneheaded loss in the WAC, but a spectacular victory in Tuscan!

Keith said...

Great entry. I have them winning around 25 games myself. I know it's early to actually seriously predict the games now because alot can happen between now and November with injuries and what not. Regardless, I think this year will be a special year and can't wait till that first game!

Unobjective Observer said...

I'm a blue aggie fan, but I'm very excited to see the NMSU schedule next year. I had no idea it was so thick. I think the southern aggies will return a strong team and be very competitive. I agree with all your predictions. We'll see how it shapes out.

I had nothing but bad things to say about Menzies after an interview I watched with him during a USU NMSU football game last year. His team proved me wrong. Here's hoping it just keeps getting better.

Anonymous said...

I like your optimism Jason, but I agree somewhat with Anon 5:36. The Aggies always find a way to lose to inferior competition. They will lose at least 10 games. I don't think everyone will be eligible, as always, and the Aggies will probably end up in the NIT. Making the NCAA this past year was great, but I don't think the Aggies will make it back; Utah State will be mad and will want to get even with NM State.

Jason Groves said...

I have been told that eligibility will not be an issue as far as basketball practice opening.

Jason Groves said...

Just to clarify....I've been informed the returners will be on the practice court.

Anonymous said...

I understand that Jason, but my worry is if everyone will remain eligible the entire season.

Anonymous said...

25 is bold. We don't have any real experienced 2 guards that can help take on the scoring load.

If Kabongo or Sy can come in to their own, I think we'll be okay.

Either that or we'll be playing with 4 'bigs' / natural forwards on the court and Laroche.

Guard is a definite concern. We could use mullings and barry this year rather than next.

Aggie007 said...

Not sure which direction this team is headed in. Menzies' recruiting is like a roll of the dice; guys from far off places who may or may not be able to play D-I basketball. High Risk, Average Reward (at least so far). At least he keeps it interesting.
The student-athlete I am looking to really take a big step up in Troy Gillenwater. He has big time talent with a screwball head; seems like that is the only way to bring big-time talent to LC. If Menzies and Co. are able to get his head screwed on straight, Gillenwater has the potential to be WAC Player of the Year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he stays eligible because from what I hear, that is a big "IF".
Hamidu Rahman should be dominant this year. His play last year, toward the end of the season, in the WAC Tourney and against Mich. St. got me out of my seat cheering for him. It is great to see him improve so much because he's not all flash & pomp, rather he is a blue-collar type player, which people can appreciate.
Who is our shooting guard this year?

Anonymous said...

I hope the prediction works out but I think it's hard to win without at least one guard who can create his own shot when necessary.

Where do you think even semi-reliable backcourt scoring will come from?

Anonymous said...

Anon 8:43.

I think Gordo, as a senior, averages around 10 a game which will help a lot. Laroach could also average a cool 12 to 14 a game this year. If we can get another 10 a game from CK or Sy, with another 6 to 8 a game from Tyrone Watson, I think we'll be tough to beat.

JY and Gib will obviously be missed but I'll take a balanced inside/outside scoring team anyday.

We should be tough to beat this year. I predict less distractions also which is a plus.