New Mexico travels to SEC country to take on number one seed Alabama Crimson Tide in the second round of the NIT Monday night. Alabama's prior game was a 68-44 win over Coastal Carolina. New Mexico's first round game saw them defeat the UTEP Miner 69-57. This year Alabama is 16-0 at home while New Mexico is a subpar 6-7 away from the Pit.
Both teams play contrasting style of play as New Mexico is a more up-and-down team while Alabama wants to keep the scoring low. The Lobos average 73.5 points per game which puts them 61st in the nation in points per game while the Crimson Tide averages 66.7 per game and they ranked 235th in the nation.
Alabama relies on low post scoring from JaMychal Green and Tony Mitchell who combine to average 31 points per game and once you include guard Trevor Releford who scores 10 per game those three combine for 62 percent of the Tide's points per game. For a team that has a deep roster, the points just do not seem to be there for Alabama. They have six players who play 21 minutes or more per game with another three who play 10 minutes per game.
Alabama can score down low, but their permitter shooting is where they struggle, so if the Lobos can slow down Green and Mitchell down low then the Lobos have a good shot of winning the game. New Mexico does have the inside presence to cause trouble for Alabama with A.J. Hardeman and Drew Gordon who will force the Tide duo to play defense.
New Mexico is without their leading scorer Dairese Gary who tore his ACL in the Lobos loss to BYU in the Mountain West quarterfinals. In his place is Jamal Fenton who was the teams top sixth-man, but has now taken the starting roll in Gary's absence. On the year Fenton has averaged just five points and just under two assists per game, but in his only start in place of Gary he scored eight points and had five assits. The Lobos will need Fenton to step up his game Monday night.
As for projections tonight, Alabama is a 4.5 point favorite and when looking at AccuScore Alabama is projected to win 68 percent of the time.
Also, this will be the open thread for tonight's game as well.