21. New Mexico (16-3)
There’s no question that the Mountain is going to put multiple teams into the Big Dance this season. When all is said and done, New Mexico could very easily be among that number with the way they’ve played this season. They stockpiled wins in nonconference play, albeit without too many of those games with standing out. Last week’s 18-point win against San Diego State was their first big resume builder and they got another one this week.
That second consecutive awesome performance came on Tuesday at home, as the Lobos scored a second straight ranked win, beating Utah State 99-86. The offense was incredibly impressive, led by 26 points and 8 rebounds from Nelly Junior Joseph and a double-double (15 points, 14 assists) from Donovan Dent. Life stayed good over the weekend, as New Mexico got an 85-66 road win at Air Force, their first conference win away from home. This time JT Toppin led the charge with 25 points and 13 rebounds.
At this moment in time, nobody is hotter in this league than the Lobos, especially with those two double-digit victories over San Diego State and Utah State. Obviously, some tougher games will come in the weeks ahead, but Richard Pitino and team look awesome, especially on the offensive side of the ball. It’s San Jose State on the road to begin next week before a couple more home games against the MWC’s top teams.