Sports fans around the country might think they have made a mistake if they tune into the New Mexico-Colorado State game on Wednesday night.
Instead of watching a college basketball game, they might think they had tuned into WWE Wednesday Night Raw.
CSU is a big, very physical team. They Rams lead the nation in rebounding. They are only too happy to wrestle with anyone for a rebound.
The 6 p.m. game in the Pit will be a real test for the Lobos. New Mexico has been a study in success this season. It is 16-2 overall, ranked No. 15 and stands atop the Mountain West Conference standings at 3-0. CSU is in second place in the MWC at 2-1 and everyone else has at least two losses.
``They've had big wins. They are a big, physical team,'' says UNM coach Steve Alford. ``They've got three guys in their lineup who are in the top five in rebounding in our league. I've got a lot of concerns about this game.''
Rebounding was supposed to be UNM's weak point this season. Instead, sophomore Alex Kirk, a 7-footer from Los Alamos, has been a real surprise and is averaging 7.9 rebounds a game. At 6-9, Cameron Bairstow is averaging 5.1, Chad Adams has been a pleasant surprise at 4.1 per game and even 6-8 freshman Nick Banyard will have to lend a hand.
``We've been a good rebounding team. They've been a great rebounding team,'' Alford notes.
But the Lobos have faced other real challenges on their way to one of most successful first halves of a season they've ever had. They've been outrebounded five times this season and won four of those games.
``This is a big week. We're playing two of the better teams in our league. We've been here. We understand that,'' Alford explains.
``It is going to be a tough week but if we do what we've been doing, we'll be OK,'' said UNM guard Kendall Williams. ``We know we'll have a wrestling match on our hands Wednesday. They rebound at every position. To keeps up with a team like Colorado State, it'll take all hands.''
Alford has confidence in his team. ``We haven't had any long periods of bad play. This team has just battled,'' Alford continues. ``We're a team that doesn't beat itself. But we've been very consistent.''
A win would give New Mexico a big advantage in the MWC. If the Lobos come out on top, they would have a two-game lead over every other team in the conference just four games into the season.
``If we can get a win, that would put two games between us and everybody. I like the position we're in,'' Alford admitted.