Stevens: No. 1 Lobos Slip To No. 10 on NCAA Bracket But Grab Home Game
Nov. 14, 2011
New Mexico Lobo Men's Soccer - In The NCAA D-I Soccer Championships
7 p.m., Lobos vs. Duke - At Lobo Soccer Complex
Tickets:$5 adults, $3 12-under: Tickets also will be available in The Pit Wednesday night at the Lobo men's basketball game vs. New Mexico State.
By Richard Stevens - Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
In the minds of an NCAA Selection Committee, the only undefeated soccer team in the nation - the New Mexico Lobos -- went from being No. 1 to being No. 10.
The NCAA bracket favored the No. 1 ranked Lobos with a first-round bye and a second-round home game to be played at 7 p.m. at the Lobo Soccer Complex. However, the committee surprised the Lobos by slapping them with a No. 10 seed.
The Lobos will play host to Duke (11-7-3), a 1-0 winner over Georgia State in first-round action Thursday night.
"I thought we would get a four, five or six," said New Mexico coach Jeremy Fishbein. "The committee tries to be unbiased and it's not a popularity contest, so fair enough. We'll play the cards dealt to us."
The Lobos scratched out a penalty-kick win over Cal State Bakersfield on Sunday in Denver to keep UNM unbeaten at 17-0-3. Bakersfield got an at-large bid into the field. A top-eight seeding would have guaranteed UNM two home games.
"There has to be an upset for us to get another home game," said Fishbein.
The Lobos are on the 48-team bracket across from No. 7 South Florida. If the Lobos and South Florida advance, the team with the best seed gets to play on their home turf. That would be South Florida.
The selection committee not giving UNM at least a No. 8 seed might have cost the Lobos a home game.
"As a team, we are excited to play regardless," said Lobo Giovanni Rollie. "I don't know if we got the respect we deserve with such a magical season. But we are excited and we have the same challenge whether we are a No. 10 seed or a No. 32.
"Well get it done."
The top 16 seeds in the NCAA field received a first-round bye. The second round games takes the field down to an Elite Eight, with the top eight seeds earning the home pitch. The Final Four survivors advance to the Men's College Cup in Hoover, Ala., for the Dec. 9 semifinals and the Dec. 11 championship.
The North Carolina Tar Heels (17-2-2) grabbed the No. 1 seed followed by Creighton (18-2), Connecticut (17-3-2) and Boston College with six losses and a 14-6 record.
"It's unfortunate to get a ten seed," said UNM's Michael Green. "I'm not angry, but they obviously didn't think too highly of us. I'm surprised, but there is nothing we can do about it.
"Now, we have to go out and show people what we are made of. We just have to come out focused and play."
The Lobos might have their home pitch for only one game, but that's still a huge advantage. The Lobos play well at home and Duke will have a long trip to Albuquerque.
"To be in front of our fans again is the best thing that could happen to us and we're looking forward to it," said Lobo Mathew Gibbons. "It's easy to be disappointed with that seed when we had such a season. But we are in the Top 16 and that still tells you something about your season and your team.
"The boys are looking forward to this. We'll come out and play."
The Lobos gathered at the Nob Hill Grill on Monday with a mob of their fans and watched the selection process on TV. There was a glitch in the TV link and Fishbein had to tell the crowd what the Lobos drew as a seed and when the game would be played.
"We're at home and that's special for us," said Fishbein. "You can't dwell on the seeding. There is no perfect way to seed teams and our strength of schedule wasn't what we hoped for after we made the schedule.
"Our focus is on the next game and that's Sunday in front of our fans."
Editor's Note: Richard Stevens is a former Associate Sports Editor and Sports Columnist for The Albuquerque Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com
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