NMSU Round Up LAS VEGAS – The New Mexico State men’s basketball team earned the number one seed with an impressive 15 game winning streak to close out the regular season.The benefits of the outright regular season title go beyond the guaranteed postseason berth (the Aggies will play in the NIT should they not advance to the NCAA Tournament) – it allowed NM State to play the opening game Thursday and against the worst team in the country.
Chicago State ranks dead last in the country in NET ranking (353). To put in perspective, the next lowest WAC team is 128 spots ahead of the Cougars (Kansas City).
The Cougars offered resistance for about 22 minutes Thursday afternoon, but the Aggies began to do what every good team does to a really bad one, overpowering them offensively and suffocating them defensively until the outcome was well in-hand.
In the semifinals awaits No. 4 UT Rio Grande Valley and a team that is many notches up from what the Aggies saw on the opening day. The Aggies used an Eli Chuha lay-up with less than 10 seconds left in to escape Edinburg with a win back Jan. 26 and narrowly beat the Vaqueros nearly a month later by nine.
After voicing his opinion last year on not having an earlier-in-the-day quarterfinal game (the Aggies played the 6:30 p.m. quarterfinal game), NM State head coach Chris Jans and the Aggies now have the rest of Thursday to watch their next opponent live, prepare for it and rest.
“I think mentally and physically, it is a big help,” Jans said after the Chicago State game in regard to getting that first game out of the way early. “We are now done at 2 o’clock and we do not play until six tomorrow and whoever we play is obviously not going to get done until 4:30-5:00 and by the time they get out of …