7. New Mexico Lobos (27-6, 15-3 Mountain West)-New Mexico comes into the NCAAs as one of the hottest teams in the nation, having won 20 of 23. The Lobos stormed to a Mountain West tournament championship, knocking off No. 8 San Diego State in the championship game. This is virtually the same group that was a popular Final Four pick heading into last season’s tournament, before it flamed out in a first-round loss to Harvard.
Everything starts with senior point guard Kendall Williams, who averages 16.4 points and 4.9 assists per game. He is one of the nation’s better point guards. Williams is a terrific passer and playmaker, and sometimes finds guys who didn’t even know they were open. He’s an NBA prospect.
6-9 senior forward Cameron Bairstow is a beast down low, leading the team in scoring at 20.4 points per game. He also pulls down 7.4 boards per, and shoots 74% from the free throw line. Seven-foot center Alex Kirk (13.6 ppg, 8.7 rpg) is an excellent player as well.
Not many teams have the type of talent that New Mexico has at point guard and center.
36th Rebounds per Game (38.2)
29th Assists per Game (15.5)
76th Points per Game (74.6)
10. Stanford Cardinal (21-12, 10-8 Pac-12)-The Trees probably sealed their NCAA bid with a run to the semifinals in the Pac-12 tournament. Coach Johnny Dawkins has done a great job rebuilding this program, which fell from its perch atop the conference after former coach Mike Montgomery left. Junior guard Chasson Randle is a big-time player, averaging 18.7 points per game. 6-10 senior forward Dwight Powell (14.2 ppg, 6.9 rpg) is also very tough inside.
Forward Josh Huestis (11.4 ppg) is another scoring option, as is 6-6 forward Anthony Brown (12.7 ppg, 5 rpg).
69th Field Goal Percentage (.464)
94th Points per Game (73.5)
136th Points Allowed (68.8)
PREDICTION: New Mexico