Mar 10, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; New Mexico Lobos fan reacts in the second half against the San Diego State Aztecs of the finals of the 2012 Mountain West Tournament at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Lobos defeated the Aztecs 68-59. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE
The New Mexico Lobos will play the Long Beach State 49ers in their first game of the 2012 NCAA Tournament on Thursday afternoon.
The New Mexico Lobos lost just six games this season while picking up wins against four ranked opponents, not an easy thing to accomplish while playing in the MWC. It doesn't get any easier, however, as they'll play the Long Beach St. 49ers on Thursday afternoon in the always difficult 5-12 matchup.
The Lobos and 49ers at 4:10 p.m. in Portland to determine which team will advance through to the next round in a game scheduled to be televised on TBS. It seems New Mexico should have the upper hand despite all of the 5-12 upset rules that have become the talk of most brackets.
New Mexico won quite a bit this season, but there isn't any one player that can be pointed to for their success -- which is a good thing, because they have quite a few guys that can step up when needed, making it difficult to gameplan against them. The team's best player is probably Drew Gordon, a UCLA transfer who averaged 13.4 points and 10.9 rebounds this season, though sophomore scorer Kendall Williams is also worth keeping an eye on in the tournament.
Long Beach State was leading at halftime when they played the North Carolina Tar Heels earlier this season, so it's obvious they could surprise some teams. Casper Ware will be the player to watch as the two-time Big West Player of the Year averaged nearly 17 points per game this season.
For more on the 2012 NCAA Tournament bracket, stay with SB Nation's Selection Sunday StoryStream, and stick around SB Nation's NCAA Tournament hub for a complete printable NCAA Tournament bracket and tons of analysis on who was snubbed, who got the best bracket, and who will make it all the way to New Orleans and the Final Four.