Busting Brackets

NCAA Tournament 2024: 3 potential 1st round upsets to look out for

New Mexico v San Diego State
New Mexico v San Diego State / Ian Maule/GettyImages
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1. #11: New Mexico vs. #6: Clemson

  • Friday, 3:10 PM ET, West Region

The New Mexico Lobos are capping off a Mountain West tournament championship run and are playing their best basketball of the season heading into the NCAA Tournament, while Clemson has slowly spiraled out in many ways. 

The Tigers are still a force to be reckoned with, led by big man PJ Hall, but they are coming off a double-digit loss in the second round of the ACC Tournament to Boston College and don't match up well with the overall speed of the Lobo's. 

New Mexico is led by it's elite guards, Jaelen House, who is the son of former NBA player, Eddie House, and Jamal Mashburn Jr. Both play close to 30 minutes a game, while House averages 16.1 PPG and shoots nearly 90% from the free throw line, and Mashburn Jr. averages 14.4 PPG and also shoots an extremely high percentage from the free throw line. The Lobos also get key contributions from Donovan Dent and J.T. Toppin. 

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New Mexico averages more PPG than Clemson (81.7), has a faster pace of play, and shockingly enough, with how dominant Hall is inside for Clemson, New Mexico rebounds at a much higher level and has a much higher defensive rating as a team than the Tigers. Clemson does shoot a higher percentage from the three-point line, which can cause concern if they get hot. But this is a matchup where you should really have some confidence in the underdog. The Lobos are built for a deep March Madness run.