Upsets are possible but I think for them to happen, specifically for the Aggies, the following things need to happen.
Aggies have to play above average:
The Aggies are the more experienced team in Thursday's matchup with Indiana, but players aren't dwelling on that.
"One thing we do that works for us is just to focus on us," Aggies senior forward Wendell McKines said. "We focus on our strengths and go about the game that way. We are going to study Indiana as far as their personnel and what ways we can attack them on the basketball court but as far as their youth, we cant focus on that as opposed to focusing on our strengths, which is our experience."
Outside of three starters who played in the NCAA's in 2010, the Aggies experience will take them just so far against a quality opponent. I think the Aggies match up decent enough. Different people I've talked to here have told me that Indiana is a so-so defensive team, meaning perhaps the Aggies can score with them. Indiana opponents are shooting 45 percent from the floor against the Hoosiers, who should be longer than the Aggies at nearly every position.
The difference here will be finding a way to get to the offensive glass like they have throughout the season (15 orpg) against a Big Ten team that is well-versed in what the Aggies do well.
Perhaps a way to find offense to make up for a below average to average night on the offensive glass is the 3 ball. Indiana makes just over 6 3s per game. NMSU has to either match or surpass that mark from 3, shooting over Indiana's size.
The Aggies also have to get back in transition, especially the centers. McKines talked about Cody Zeller's knack for rushing out in transition.
Indiana has to have a slightly down night:
The Aggies can't focus on getting Cody Zeller in foul trouble. Zeller's going to get his.
But NMSU has to find a way to drop Indiana's 3-point percentage from 43 down at least 10 points. Jordan Hulls is a great shooter, but he's 6-feet tall. After that, Indiana has size all over the place. NMSU has to identify Indiana's shooters, especially in transition. I actually wouldn't mind seeing NMSU relax a little on the offensive boards, at least early in the game, and run back in transition, similar to what Hawaii did to the Aggies when the Warriors made their run in the WAC semis.
Somebody has to be special:
Indiana's players, coach, Wendell McKines, everyone seemed to talk about stopping Wendell.
With that in mind, three players come to mind who have to play out of their mind for the Ags to pull the upset.
Bandja Sy, Hernst Laroche and Chili Nephawe.
Bandja is capable of turning a game by himself and I believe he needs to knock down two or three triples, as does Laroche, who has shown glimpses of becoming a decent scorer. I think Laroche needs to be in the 15-18 point range. Nephawe played great in the WAC tournament, Rahman not so much. It would be nice if they were both effective, but I'm going with the hot hand. Chili needs to be in double double territory.
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