It has been well documented over the past three posts here but in case you missed it, the Aggie volleyball team is headed to Austin, TX for the first round of the NCAA women's volleyball tournament. Their opponent is LSU. Unfortunately we don't know much about LSU except that they were the SEC West Division champions and the SEC is a pretty tough league in just about every sport so we'd imagine they're a darn good volleyball team. They're making their third consecutive tournament appearance and are 5-4 this season against tournament-bound opponents. The Aggies and Tigers have met four times and are 2-2 against each other but have not met since 1996. The Aggies will face LSU at 3:00 p.m. on Friday.
This week is rivalry week for the women's basketball team and half of rivalry week for the men's basketball team. The ladies take on UTEP on Wednesday and UNM on Sunday and the men take on UTEP tomorrow.
FIrst let's talk about the men's team. This is a crucial week for the Aggies. They're currently sitting at 2-4 overall. They've played three tough teams, two of whom were ranked (#13/10 Duke and #15/16 Texas) and obviously are MUCH better than everyone thought. Tomorrow's game against UTEP is in El Paso and will be Coach Menzies' first taste of the rivarly games at NMSU. Just like Reggie he's been a part of some big rivalry games and from an emotional standpoint, we're not worried. He'll have the kids prepared.
From a basketball standpoint, we don't know what to expect from this game. Coming into the season we'd have told you hands down that the Aggies would blow UTEP out of the water. However, UTEP has been pretty solid this season thus far. They beat Texas A&M Corpus Christi, an NCAA tournament team from last year. They also hung tough with #15 Texas A&M in their game in the Preseason NIT, leading by 8 at halftime and they didn't go away, losing 81-76. Texas A&M is a very good team, they beat a good Washington team and absolutely obliterated a very good Ohio State team. So tomorrow's game is a toss-up, especially if Justin Hawkins sits out with that strained (not sprained) knee.
After tomorrow's game, they've got the Lou Henson Classic this weekend with games against Chicago State and North Texas. The Aggies should handle Chicago State but are in for a game against North Texas. North Texas went to the NCAA tournament last season and hung tough with Memphis in the first round before succumbing to Memphis' superior athleticism. So far they're 3-1 with an early signature win over Oklahoma State.
The Aggies will be very fortunate if they can get out of this week 3-0 but going 1-2 is not totally out of the question. The Aggies have shown improvement (except on the turnover side of things) with each game and we think they're finally settling into the Marvin Menzies offense. If they can cut down on the turnovers, they'll do just fine. Tomorrow's game will be another big test though because The Don will be a very hostile environment.
Now, for the ladies, as we mentioned they'll take on UTEP on Wednesday night and UNM on Sunday. These are two measuring stick games for the Aggies. It's nice to be 4-0 but the Aggies can really catapult their season if they can beat UTEP and UNM in the next seven days. The Aggies continue to play great defense and we look for them to really put a lot of pressure on both UNM and UTEP and we think they can win both games. The Aggies have learned how to win games and also how to close out games. They've done a very good job of that in each of their four wins this season. Don't be surprised if the Aggies finish the week 2-0.
Last but certainly not least, the Aggie football team closes out their season on Friday night against Fresno State. Friday is also Senior Night and in addition the game will be broadcast on ESPN. Show up to the game and support the seniors as they play in their final game.
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