Men's Basketball Non-Conference Schedule Released
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics  
Release:  07/17/2013
Courtesy: New Mexico Athletics

July 17, 2013

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Albuquerque, N.M. --- The Craig Neal era of Lobo basketball now has a firm date for its official debut. UNM opens with Alabama A&M, the first of 12 non-conference games that were officially released by the university on Wednesday.

The schedule features six home games (eight counting the two exhibition games), two road games, and four neutral site games. The Lobos are guaranteed to face five NCAA Tournament teams (Kansas, Marquette, Cincinnati, New Mexico State twice) and one NIT team (Charleston Southern). UNM will also face off with Grand Canyon, which made the Division II Tournament, and could face two other postseason teams in the Charleston Classic.

"It's a good schedule, maybe the toughest one ever here," said Neal of a schedule that could feature up to nine postseason teams and seven teams in the 2012-13 top 60 in the RPI. "We tried to bring in opponents that if they aren't in a major conference will do well in their leagues, because that has helped us in the past."

The Lobos will host exhibition games against Eastern New Mexico and Jamestown on November 2 and 6 before the official season opener against Alabama A&M on Nov. 9 at 8 p.m., a game that will conclude a full day of events at the university. New Mexico will also be hosting a volleyball match at Johnson Gym at noon, the Mountain West women's soccer championship match at 1 p.m., the women's basketball season opener against Loyola Marymount at 3 p.m., and the men's soccer senior day against Kentucky at 5 p.m.

The Lobos will have a week off before taking on 2013 Big South champion Charleston Southern, a game to be played on Sunday to allow for football to have Senior Night on Saturday. The Lobos then head to Charleston for the Charleston Classic. UNM opens with UAB of Conference USA on ESPNU at 1 p.m. Mountain Time. UNM would play either Nebraska or UMass on Friday before concluding the tournament on Sunday against either Clemson, Davidson, Georgia, or Temple.

UNM rounds out November with San Diego in The Pit on the 30th in a 1 p.m. game on Thanksgiving weekend.

December however provides the gauntlet, with five straight NCAA Division I Tournament teams, and a Division II Tournament team that is now Division I in Grand Canyon. The Lobos will play their first true road game on the 4th when they travel to Las Cruces for the first of two Rio Grande Rivalry games. The Lobos then head back to The Pit to face off against Cincinnati, formerly of the Big East and now a member of the American Athletic Conference.

UNM then heads out for another marquee matchup, this with Kansas in the Sprint Center in Kansas City. The game is the annual Kansas City Shootout game for the Jayhawks, and it pits two of the three teams in the NCAA that have won at least four regular season conference titles in the last five years (Gonzaga is the other).

UNM returns home for a rematch with New Mexico State on December 17 before heading to Las Vegas for the MGM Grand Showcase, where UNM will face off with Marquette, who advanced to the Elite Eight last year and won the Big East regular season title.

"The Marquette game is at the MGM Grand, and that will really give us a chance to play in an arena that is a true neutral site, and give our guys a chance to play in a tournament-type atmosphere," said Neal. "Game like that and the Kansas game are to help us get better in the NCAA Tournament, and those opponents and arena prepare us for that."

The Grand Canyon game will feature a team transitioning to Division I and a new member of the Western Athletic Conference. It will also feature former Phoenix Suns star Dan Majerle as head coach. Mountain West play is scheduled to start the following week.

The average win total of the 10 guaranteed opponents for the Lobos (not counting the second and final rounds of the Charleston Classic) is 21.1, with six of those 10 winning 20 or more (Charleston Southern won 19).

The Mountain West will release the 18-game league slate sometime in August after television games have been selected. The league is now 11-strong with the addition of Utah State and San Jose State, so UNM will play two Mountain West teams just once, and eight teams twice.