0

Preview: Harvard vs. New Mexico

Preview: Harvard vs. New Mexico

New Mexico coach Steve Alford said 29 victories and a second consecutive Mountain West Conference tournament title - accomplished against the second-toughest schedule in the nation - warranted at least a No. 2 seed. The Lobos will settle for a No. 3 in the West Regional and will open their NCAA Tournament against No. 14 seed Harvard on Thursday in Salt Lake City. The Lobos roar into the NCAAs off a 63-56 victory at UNLV in the MWC title game Saturday. Junior guard Kendall Williams, the MWC Player of the Year, averages 13.5 points while leading the conference in minutes played and finishing second in assists.

Harvard has not played since beating Cornell on March 9 to clinch the Ivy League title and automatic berth. The Crimson will put New Mexico's perimeter defense to the test. Harvard is tied for sixth in the nation in 3-point shooting (40.1 percent) and 12th in field-goal percentage (48.2). The Crimson are in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season after pushing Vanderbilt hard in a 79-70 loss in last year's second round. The Crimson lost by three at Massachusetts, by eight at Connecticut and by 10 at Memphis this season.

TV: 9:50 p.m. ET, TNT

ABOUT HARVARD (19-9): Sophomore guard-forward Wesley Saunders led the Ivy League in scoring at 16.5 points, finished second in field-goal percentage (53.6) and led the conference in steals. Saunders put together a superb season, but coach Tommy Amaker's squad has other offensive options. Guard Siyani Chambers became the first freshman to land on the All-Ivy League's first team, leading the conference in assists while shooting 81.9 percent from the free-throw line and averaging 12.9 points.

ABOUT NEW MEXICO (29-5): Williams scored a career-best 46 points in an upset of Colorado State on Feb. 23, hitting 10 3-pointers, but has scored 71 in seven games since. Junior guard Tony Snell stood out in the MWC tournament, scoring 13 consecutive points against UNLV to secure tournament MVP. Snell averaged 17.7 points, shooting 12-for-20 from 3-point range. The Lobos also used strong defense to secure the conference crown, holding opponents to 50.7 points and 32.4 percent shooting.

TIP-INS

  1. The winner will face No. 6 Arizona or No. 11 Belmont in Saturday's third round.

  2. Harvard has won six of its past eight games, New Mexico nine of 10.

  3. The Lobos and Crimson have never met.

PREDICTION: New Mexico 65, Harvard 54