There are 32 games on Thursday and Friday, one of the most exciting 48-hour segments on the sports calendar.
We won’t be able to get individual previews up for every game, but we’ll cherry pick some of the more compelling matchups during the tournament’s “second” round.
In this post, we preview the 4-13 matchup in the South Region between the resurgent Indiana Hoosiers and rugged, under-appreciated New Mexico State.
Indiana-New Mexico State Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #4 Indiana v #13 New Mexico State in South Region
- Indiana-New Mexico State Date: Thursday, March 15th
- Indiana-New Mexico State Tip Time: 9:40 ET
- Indiana-New Mexico State Location: Portland
- Indiana-New Mexico State TV: CBS
- Indiana-New Mexico State Announcers: Brian Anderson and Dan Bonner
- Indiana-New Mexico State Point Spread: Indiana -6.5
- Postgame Show: The Assembly Call
- Tickets: Indiana-New Mexico State Tickets
- Tickets: All Portland Sessions
- Tickets: South Regional Tickets in Atlanta
Indiana-New Mexico State Analysis and Prediction
While I don’t see the Aggies pulling the upset here, there are a couple of areas where they could give Indiana some trouble.
New Mexico State ranks first in free throw rate with an absurd 52.8 mark, although to some extent that was skewed by some gaudy non-conference numbers. However, guys like Wendell McKines and Hamidu Rahman have propelled the Aggies to an extremely high offensive rebounding percentage, while the Hoosiers have struggled on the defensive glass at times.
That being said, the Hoosiers appear to have an advantage in virtually every category on the offensive end, including two-point shooting, three-point shooting, and free throw rate. As has been the case all season, IU’s offense will carry them to a victory.
Predicted Winner: Indiana
Indiana Team Capsule
- Conference: Big Ten
- Record: 25-8 (11-7 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 8-2
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 8-5
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue (2)
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin (2)
- Player to Watch: Cody Zeller (6’11” F, Fr.) – 15.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.3 spg, 1.2 bpg, 62.6 FG%
Indiana Hoosiers Bottoms Line:
Apparently the rebuilding process for the Hoosiers is a year ahead of schedule, as this year’s squad went undefeated in the non-conference and picked up a number of high quality wins. One big reason for their substantial improvement is the play of freshman phenom Cody Zeller, who leads the Hoosiers in scoring and rebounding. His ability to run the floor puts pressure on opposing defenses, and he has been even more impressive than IU fans had hoped.
Three other Hoosiers score in double figures, including juniors Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls. Watford has been inconsistent over the course of his career, but he has posted double-doubles in three of the last four games. Hulls is shooting over 49 percent from long range and makes nearly 90 percent from the line. The turning point for IU came when sophomore Victor Oladipo slid over the point. His aggressiveness on both ends of the floor has provided a spark for the Hoosiers.
A number of bench players have contributed as well, but IU will be without senior Verdell Jones III, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the Big Ten Tournament. The Hoosiers are in the Top Five in offensive efficiency, led by Top 10 rankings in three-point shooting, effective field goal percentage, and free throw rate, which is critical since they shoot over 76 percent from the line.
Indiana has struggled on defense though and ranks outside of the Top 100 in all four factors. They will need to rely on outscoring teams to win in the tournament, but they have to put up more resistance on defense to make a deep run.
New Mexico State Aggies Team Capsule
- Conference: WAC
- Record: 26-9 (10-4 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 9-1
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 1-3
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: New Mexico
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: New Mexico, Southern Mississippi (2)
- Player to Watch: Wendell McKines (6’6” F, Sr.) – 18.8 ppg, 10.8 rpg
New Mexico State Aggies Bottoms Line:
In one of the more lopsided results of Championship Week, New Mexico State routed Louisiana Tech to earn the WAC’s automatic bid. In that game, the Aggies pounded the ball inside as they have done throughout the year.
They take under 25 percent of their shots from beyond the arc, which is one of the lowest rates in the country. Instead, they push the tempo and relentlessly attack the rim and crash the boards. For the year, they hit 51.2 percent from two-point range, grabbed over 40 percent of their missed shots, and rank first in the nation in free throw rate. That all starts with Wendell McKines, who is a double-double machine with strong rebounding rates on the offensive and defensive glass.
Point guard Hernst Laroche scores 12.0 points per game and leads the Aggies in assists and steals, while also hitting over 40 percent from deep. Big man Hamidu Rahman is among the nation’s best offensive rebounders and has a phenomenal 100.5 free throw rate, although he actually shoots better from the field than he does from the stripe. Throw in athletic freshman Daniel Mullings, who scores 9.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, and you have an explosive offensive attack.
The Aggies also do a decent job on the defensive end, and not surprisingly they have a high defensive rebounding percentage. They are playing very well right now and have won 12 of their last 14 teams, with the two losses coming by a total of five points.
Related: Jump to our South Region Bracket Breakdown.
See our other individual game previews and predictions:
- South Region: #4 Indiana v #13 New Mexico State
- South Region: #5 Wichita State v #12 VCU
- South Region: #6 UNLV v #11 Colorado
- South Region: #7 Notre Dame v #10 Xavier
- South Region: #8 Iowa State v #9 Connecticut
- West Region: #4 Louisville v #13 Davidson
- West Region: #5 New Mexico v #12 Long Beach State
- West Region: #6 Murray State v #11 Colorado State
- West Region: #7 Florida v #10 Virginia
- West Region: #8 Memphis v #9 Saint Louis
- East Region: #4 Wisconsin v #13 Montana
- East Region: #5 Vanderbilt v #12 Harvard
- East Region: #6 Cincinnati v #11 Texas
- East Region: #7 Gonzaga v #10 West Virginia
- East Region: #8 Kansas State v #9 Southern Miss
- Midwest Region: #3 Georgetown v #14 Belmont
- Midwest Region: #4 Michigan v #13 Ohio
- Midwest Region: #5 Temple v #12 Cal/USF
- Midwest Region: #6 San Diego State v #11 NC State
- Midwest Region: #7 St. Mary’s v #10 Purdue
- Midwest Region: #8 Creighton v #9 Alabama