Aug. 16, 2010
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. --- University of New Mexico men's basketball coach Steve Alford recently announced the Lobos' 2010-11 schedule. The back-to-back Mountain West Conference champion Lobos will face 10 teams during the season that advanced to the postseason in 2010 and will play in front of a national television audience at least 18 times. Currently UNM is still looking to add one more home game and has the possibility of more games being televised during the season. Schedule changes will be posted on GoLobos.com.
"This is Year 4 for us and this will be the most difficult schedule we've had at New Mexico," said Alford. "We have a lot of new, young guys on the team this season which is a cause for concern, but we need to continue to upgrade our non-conference schedule to be prepared for a tough conference season."
The Lobos will have the opportunity to show off the newly renovated Pit 17 times during the season, including two exhibition and seven non-conference games before jumping into the defense of their 2009 and 2010 MWC championship titles. The $60 million renovation is nearing final completion after over 16 months of work.
"Playing five to six BCS schools in the non-conference helps us in our preparation," said Alford. "We'll play our first nine games without (transfer) Drew Gordon before he becomes eligible at the end of the semester. That will give our young guys a great opportunity to get some experience."
The season will begin with two exhibition games against familiar programs to UNM and Alford. Local Division II opponent Eastern New Mexico will get the opportunity to play in the soft opening of The Pit on Nov. 3. It will be the first contest between the two schools since 2007. Manchester College, out of Indiana, will visit The Pit on Nov. 6. Alford's first head coaching job was at Manchester. He was 78-29 in four seasons (1991-95) with three appearances in the NCAA Division III national tournament. Manchester was the national runner-up in his final season with the program.
New Mexico will start the regular season against Detroit on Nov. 13, during a week-long celebration of the grand re-opening of The Pit. It will be the first meeting between the teams since 1989. 2010 National Invitational Tournament participant Arizona State will come to The Pit to play in front of a national television audience on Nov. 16 on VERSUS. The series with the Sun Devils dates back to 1931, but the teams have not faced each other since 1995.
The Lobos stay in the Pacific-10 Conference for a game on the road to California on Nov. 20. The Bears lost to Duke in the Second Round of the 2010 NCAA Tournament. UNM beat Cal last season, 86-78, in The Pit when the Bears were ranked No. 25 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll.
Thanksgiving weekend will wrap up with a visit to The Pit by San Diego. It will be the fourth season in a row that the Lobos and Toreros have met during the regular season. UNM has won the last three meetings, including last year's 82-78 win in San Diego.
December will start with the Lobos on the road for two games. Carbondale, Ill. is the destination on Dec. 1 as UNM faces Southern Illinois in the second annual MWC-MVC Challenge Series. It will be the first meeting between the two programs. Last year, the Lobos beat Creighton, 66-61 at The Pit, in the first challenge between the two conferences.
The Rio Grande Rivalry with New Mexico State will start in Las Cruces on Dec. 4 and move to The Pit on Dec. 11. The Dec. 11 match-up will be televised on The Mtn. UNM leads the series 110-94 and has won the last five meetings.
In between finals and the holiday break, New Mexico will squeeze in four games of the Las Vegas Classic from Dec. 17-23. Longwood (Dec. 17) and The Citadel (Dec. 19) will be the first opponents in The Pit before the tournament moves to Las Vegas. It will be the first meeting with The Citadel and the second with Longwood.
The tournament moves to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Dec. 22-23. The Lobos will face Colorado on the 22nd with the opportunity to face 2010 Sweet 16 team Northern Iowa or Alford's alma mater, Indiana, on the 23rd.
After the holiday break, UNM will play three non-conference games before diving into the Mountain West Conference schedule. The Lobos travel to Texas Tech on Dec. 29 and head straight to Dayton for a meeting against the 2010 NIT champions on Jan. 1.
Division I newcomer Cal State Bakersfield will make their way to The Pit for the first time ever on Jan. 5. The Roadrunners became active members of Division I over the summer after a successful Division II men's basketball history.
The Lobos begin the climb to their third MWC championship with the 16-game conference schedule, with all 16 games televised on CBS C, The Mtn. or VERSUS. UNM will start on the road at Wyoming on Jan. 8 before returning home to host Colorado State on Jan. 12 and San Diego State on Jan. 15.
The following week puts UNM on the road at Utah on Jan. 19 and UNLV on Jan. 22. January will close out in The Pit with TCU on Jan. 26 and BYU on Jan. 29. The first half of conference action will wrap up at Air Force on Feb. 1.
The second round of conference action begins with Wyoming in The Pit on Feb. 9 before a road trip to Colorado State on Feb. 12 and San Diego State on Feb. 16. Utah visits The Pit on Feb. 19, followed by UNLV on Feb. 23.
The last road trip of the regular season sends the Lobos to TCU on Feb. 26 and BYU on March 2. The final home game of the 2010-11 season will be March 5 against Air Force.
The 2011 Mountain West Conference Men's Basketball Tournament returns to the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, March 9-12.
"It will be very tough for us to get a third title in a row," said Alford. "The league is very strong this year and it will not be easy for us to repeat."
Fans can check out the Lobos' schedule on GoLobos.com for television game assignments. In Albuquerque, VERSUS is available on channels 37 (Comcast), 603 (DirecTV) and 151 (Dish). The Mtn. is available on channels 276 (Comcast) and 616 (DirecTV), while CBS C is available on channels 274 (Comcast), 613 (DirecTV) and 152 (Dish).