Today the New Mexico State women's basketball team takes the court for their first NCAA Tournament game in nearly 30 years as they face top seed in the Spokane Regional, Maryland. The Terps come into the game having lost just two games (back-to-back), both in the non-conference and both early in the season. A 70-64 setback against Washington State at home and then a 92-72 no-shame-in-that-loss at perennial national championship contender Notre Dame. Since that time the Terrapins have rattled off 26 consecutive victories as they rolled through the Big Ten undefeated which was unofficially the fourth best RPI rated conference.
Maryland, as we discussed on the podcast, is the best team the Aggie women's basketball program has faced in at least 15 years. Sure, the Aggies have faced ranked teams such as Kansas (whom they defeated), very good and often-times ranked UNM teams, a very good (in recent years under Keitha Adams) UTEP program but this is Maryland. They are one of women's college basketball's bluebloods. They own a national championship and are perennial national title contenders in their own right.
So what are the Aggie women facing today when they step on the court? They are facing a team that has beaten their opponents by an average of 19 points per game (16 points per game in conference), a team that is sixth in the nation in field goal percentage (47.3 percent) and third in the country in offensive points per possession (1.085). Defensively, they're just 123rd in field goal percentage defense, however, they are 38th in three point percentage defense allowing opponents to hit just 28.5 percent of their three point attempts. The Aggies live and die from the three point arc so facing a team that give us such a stingy percentage does not bode well in a game in which the odds are already stacked against the team.
Perhaps a positive for the Aggies is that the Terrapins faced Iowa, a team that likes to shoot three pointers and does so quite well (they boast the nation's third best three point percentage), and they allowed the Hawkeyes to convert 8-of-15 attempts. Though the Hawkeyes lost, they kept it close losing 92-88.
The biggest key for the Aggies will be to go out, have fun, play loose and understand that there is absolutely no pressure on them. As Coach Trakh said in an interview with the Las Cruces Sun-News, nothing that happens today on the court diminishes what the team accomplished this season.
The Aggies play at 11:30 a.m. MDT and the game is slated to be televised on ESPN2 and can also be seen on ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app.
Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News takes a look at the Aggies tough task against Maryland.
Childs Walker from the Baltimore Sun writes that the Terps are looking to avoid NCAA Tournament history and not become just the second No. 1 seed to lose to a No. 16 seed.
The Associated Press has a few notes on the College Park games.
Steve Megargee of the Associated Press looks at the history that Coach Trakh has made in leading the Aggies to the Big Dance.
Check out our photo gallery from the game in case you missed it.
Mark Rudi of the Las Cruces Sun-News recaps the Aggies' loss to Kansas in the NCAA Tournament.
The Kansas athletic website recaps the Aggies' loss.
The Kansas athletic website shares video highlights from the game.
The Kansas athletic website also shares a photo gallery from the game
Matt Tait of the Lawrence World-Journal talks about the Jayhawks' strategy against the Aggie big men.
Matt Tait also recaps the Aggies' loss.
The Lawrence World-Journal has more on Kansas' win over NMSU.
The Lawrence World-Journal shares an infograph on the game.
Tom Keegan of the Lawrence World-Journal talks about KU's point guard Frank Mason III.