Starting Wednesday night, the price of poker jumps up sharply for the Lobos. UNM plays Colorado in the semifinals of the Las Vegas Classic at the Orleans Arena.
The next four games could be in Las Vegas against Colorado (Big 12) and Indiana (Big 10) and on the road at Texas Tech and Dayton.
Should the Lobos sweep through those four undefeated, they will prove that they are for real. Winning three out of four would be good. Breaking even would be OK. Winning only one would be disappointing. And if New Mexico loses all four, well then the opening day of baseball season would become important.
Colorado is 7-3 and has lost all three games outside Boulder. Trips to San Francisco, Georgia and Harvard have resulted in losses. Those aren't powerhouses. If the Lobos play good defense, they will be favored.
But the Lobos are an unknown commodity on the road. Their worst game of the year was their first road game against a decent but not outstanding California where they lost 89-64. Then they beat Southern Illinois and New Mexico State in road games, two decent teams.
``I know we've played very well since then,'' UNM coach Steve Alford said of the loss at Cal. ``Now we go to Vegas and this is a good opportunity. We have been able to make strides we wanted.''
Two freshmen probably will start for New Mexico against Colorado. And freshmen are very unpredictable on the road. On the plus side, junior Drew Gordon, a 6-foot-9 transfer, became eligible this week.
``There's no dropoff when we go to the bench,'' Alford noted. ``We've had seven home games and been ahead by 20 points or more in every game.''
Wednesday's game will be available on the CBS College Sports channel.