ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Coming off Saturday’s Mountain West Tournament championship win, the Lobos jumped three spots to number seventeen in both national polls Monday, which adds fuel to the fire about the NCAA selection committee giving them a lower than expected seven seed.
As Lobo fans and others sound off online about what they see as a dissing of UNM, the Lobos themselves met with reporters Monday for the first time since the seeds were announced.
The Lobos won the Mountain West Conference tournament for the third year in a row Saturday, convincing the coaches and the writers to move them significantly higher in both polls.
This raises even more questions about what the selection committee did Sunday.
“Out of the Mountain West, number seven seed, the Lobos of New Mexico,” announcers said Sunday.
CBS’ Doug Gottlieb pressed for an answer from the committee chair.
“I gotta have a little bit of an explanation for New Mexico,” he said.
The chair’s response was another diss.
“Off the top of my head, I can’t remember exactly about New Mexico,” Ron Wellman said.
But, still feeling good about their conference title, Lobo players didn’t seem upset when they met with reporters Monday.
“I feel like we could’ve maybe got a seed or two higher, but I don’t think this team needs any extra motivation,” said UNM guard, Kendall Williams.
“It is what it is,” said UNM Forward, Cameron Bairstow. “Bottom line is, NCAA Tournament, any team you’ll be playing is a good team no matter what. And as we proved last year, seeding doesn’t mean anything.”
Last year, as a number three seed, the Lobos were shocked by number 14 Harvard—a loss that may still be hurting the program’s reputation.
ESPN Monday put UNM on its “Bracket Do Not Pick List,” which says, “history is definitely not on the side of picking SDSU or UNM or both to make a deep tournament run.”
CBS Sports acknowledges New Mexico’s seven-seed is a snub, saying “most people thought New Mexico’s conference tournament championship would be enough to get them higher.”
Coach Craig Neal doesn’t get it either.
“It just makes me, you know, it just makes you wonder, so I don’t know if we’ll ever get any answers but I just know we’re playing Stanford and we’re excited about that,” Coach Neal said.
Despite the disappointing seed, Coach Neal said he is happy the Lobos will play their first-round game against Stanford on Friday instead of Thursday. They can use the extra day’s rest after three tough games in a row in Las Vegas.