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Long Beach State
Pick With Analysis
Long Beach State (23-8, RPI: 38) is looking to win their first NCAA Tournament game victory since 1973. The 49ers were the regular season and conference champions of the Big West conference. They are a rock solid team with one of the best players in the country; Casper Ware. Now they will take on New Mexico (27-6, RPI: 26) as the 12 seed in the West Region. The Lobos earned their 5 seed after a strong season that saw them share the Mountain West conference regular season championship with San Diego State before winning their conference tournament. New Mexico is currently a -4 point favorite.
The 49ers found themselves on the national map after crushing Pittsburgh on the road in their second game of the year. They played North Carolina and Kansas close in road losses before taking out Xavier and Auburn in Hawaii. Inside their conference they finished 15-1.
Senior G Casper Ware is a pesky player. The 5-10 Cerritos, CA native leads the team in scoring at 17.4 PPG. He ended the year on a huge high note by scoring 33 against UC Santa Barbara in their conference tournament championship game. Ware has played against some of the best guards in the country and will be unfazed by anyone matched against him during March Madness.
Senior F T.J. Robinson is almost as important as Ware. The big man averages 12 PPG and 10.1 RPG. His ability to get to the glass will go a long way for a potential Long Beach State win. Senior G Larry Anderson gets 14 PPG and 5 RPG. The 49ers roster is senior laden and full of experience. This is an upset minded team that has the bullets to get the job done.
New Mexico's marquee nonconference win came against St. Louis who finished second in a deep Atlantic 10 conference. Inside the conference beat San Diego State and UNLV twice, but also lost to each of them once. They traded games with Colorado State.
Senior F Drew Gordon leads the Lobos in scoring at 13.4 PPG. He also cleans the glass for an average of 10.9 RPG. His free throw shooting has improved greatly. In his last five games Gordon is 22 of 26 from the charity stripe. Not bad for a big 'fella. Kendall Williams is the second leading scorer for New Mexico. The sophomore G averages 12 PPG. He does a great job of distributing the ball with 4.1 APG.
New Mexico has advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament on five occasions since 1996, but has gone no further than that. The Lobos will have to fight hard to get to the Sweet Sixteen this year. They enter this game as a 4 point favorite and will have to play an experienced and hungry team. That should make for great entertainment. Our Pick - New Mexico -4
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