NCAA Tournament South Region Preview: (7) New Mexico Lobos vs. (10) Stanford Cardinal
Betting odds courtesy of Bovada
New Mexico was highly seeded in 2013 and met its demise in the first round to the Harvard Crimson, and it’s doubtful that being a three-point favorite according to college basketball odds is likely to inflate that ego. New Mexico finished the season 27-6 with a 15-3 record in the Mountain West, and the Lobos defeated San Diego State two of three contests, while faring 2-3 against the other five NCAA tournament teams it faced in 2013-14.
Stanford is making its return to the NCAA tournament with its last appearance having come in 2008. Stanford won the NIT in 2012, but this year’s squad comes in with some struggles. The Cardinal have lost four of its last seven games and finished just 10-8 in the Pac-12. UCLA obliterated Stanford on Mar 14, 84-59 and Arizona had no problem with the Cardinal in either matchup this season. Still, the offense is disciplined and takes good shots, accounting for the team’s high field goal mark (46.4 percent).
Chasson Randle is the leading scorer at 18.7 points per game. The 6’2″ junior guard had scored 21 points or greater in four consecutive games before UCLA put the clamps on him and held him to just 11 field goal attempts (hitting five), and 11 points in the lopsided loss. Randle has hit a three pointer in all but five games this season, and curiously the Cardinal dropped two of those five. His high mark of 33 points came in a loss in a shootout against BYU, when he managed to get up 23 field goals.
6’10” senior forward Dwight Powell is a force on the interior for Stanford. He posted 14.2 points, 6.9 rebounds and 3.2 assists this season and he’s been very consistent of late, having hit 17-of-27 from the floor over his past three games while averaging 15.7 points and 3.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals per game. Last year, Powell displayed good marksmanship from three-point range, hitting 45.5 percent, but this season that has plummeted to 27.8 percent. Even so, don’t write off his stretch-4 capabilities and he moves the ball well. He’s struggled from the stripe this season too (68.0 percent), which isn’t good given the fact he attempt 5.9 per game.
New Mexico is led by Cameron Bairstow, a 6’9″ 250 pound senior forward, who is an efficient workhorse. Bairstow shot 55.5 percent from the floor while averaging 20.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game. Over his past five contests, he has averaged 20.4 points and 8.2 rebounds per game.
Senior point guard Kendall Williams had a nice campaign, too, with 16.4 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game. He brings good size to the 1-spot at 6’4″ and he’s been steady for the Lobos. Over his past three contests he’s managed 17, 16, 16 points and all three were New Mexico victories. In the win over Fresno State, Williams had 17 points, nine assists and six rebounds. The Lobos have enough talent offensively to run up the points; it will be a matter of getting stops and finding a way to keep Powell from going nuts on Bairstow.
STAN Trends: 6-2 ATS in last 8 vs Mountain West; 3-8-1 ATS in last 12 Friday games.
NM Trends: UNDER 8-1 in last 9 overall; 14-3 ATS in last 17 overall; 8-3-1 ATS in last 12 vs Pac-12.