Not only is the top seed in the conference tournament on the line which would most likely mean missing UNLV until the finals. That is huge since the conference tournament is played on the home of the Rebels. Other ramifications for this game is the possibility to stay out west come tournament time. This is huge for BYU since they most likely would be a protected seed and go to San Jose and then move on to the Salt Lake City regional. This is assuming BYU wins out through the conference tournament.
If New Mexico wins out here and in the conference tournament they would go west, but that then means BYU would be shipped east to the Syracuse region because of the rule that conference members can not face each other until a certain point. Also the fact that BYU does not play on Sunday and the Syracuse region is the other Thursday/Saturday bracket. They still go to San Jose since it is Thursday/Saturday for round one which means New Mexico would could not be at that region.
Could the winner go on to be a two seed? Depends but the RPI of the two should be around the top 15 or worst. One gripe before to the preview of the game, Versus is a joke. Besides the whole not on DirecTv thing which hurts me and others there is not a single mention of the game on the front page of their website. Their main story is the Canada women's hockey controversy, and not a single blip of the game. Even if you managed to click through the site to find the preview of the game that link is busted. As I am writing this Versus decided to fix that by having the game be one of the rotating banners of the game with a working link! The time stamp shows yesterday morning, go figure. Check that article as well since the writer is a friend of mine.
BYU is 16-0 at home while New Mexico is riding a 12 game winning streak and beat BYU at the Pit 76-72. Each squad has two studs BYU has NBA-bound Jimmer Fredette and the thievery king Jackson Emery, but do not forget about Jonathan Tavernari who will battle for rebounds. BYU needs Jimmer to play to his typical high level and get 20-30 points with a good field goal percentage. Fredette has range to knock down the long shot, but his quick enough to beat most players of the dribble. Transition points could be the difference which is something the Cougars are good at, and since they are the leagues best shooting New Mexico will need to clamp down.
The Lobo players to watch are Darington Hobson and Roman Martinez. Hobson is a solid scorer at 15.5 per game, but he needs a lot of shots to get to his average. Watch out if Hobson gets to the line or has a good shooting night he could easily go point for point with Fredette. Martinez is an outstanding shooter and guard rebounder; he leads the MWC in three point shooting and averages six boards. Rebounds, rebounds, and more rebounds is the key for the Lobos. They are a very good team at getting second chance points by way of offensive rebounds.
BYU wins if … The Cougars can rebound with New Mexico and limit the Lobos to one shot.They need to limit the Lobo possessions. They have the home edge which may ultimately be the difference.
New Mexico wins if … The Lobos can get to the free-throw line. BYU plays both man-to-man and 2-3 zone, so New Mexico has to adjust on the fly with what BYU throws at them.