49ers believe they have the strengths to upset the Lobos
New Mexico might be the higher seed, but it will be interesting to see how they match up against Long Beach State, a team that plays a similar style of basketball.
'I think it's going to be up and down,' Lobos' guard Hugh Greenwood said. 'Both teams like to get out and run. We're both athletic groups. I'm sure it's going to be a fun game. But like I said, it's going to be a lot of up and down stuff. And I guess who can be more disciplined, take care of the ball and stuff like.'
When it comes to ball possession, the numbers of both teams stack up evenly. They both turn the ball over around 13 times per game and create more than 5.5 steals per game.
That is just one of the reasons why the No. 12 seeded 49ers feel confident they can upset the No. 5 seeded Lobos.
Plus, Long Beach State is led by one of the best players in the country in Casper Ware. Ware averages 17 points per game and is a two-time Big West Conference Player of the Year. During three games in the Big West Conference Tournament, Ware averaged 22 points and 3.7 assists.
However, Long Beach State's chances of advancing past the second round could suffer if it is without Larry Anderson, who is the 49ers' second highest scorer. Anderson missed the conference tournament with a knee injury.
'We're hoping that it will be Larry Anderson, because that's who we started in every other game,' 49ers' head coach Dan Monson said of who will start on Thursday. 'We'll start whatever group we feel helps us win the basketball game the best.. If Larry is ready, he would probably… I would probably start him.'
The 49ers, who are a good rebounding team, will have to combat New Mexico's 6-foot-9 245-pound Drew Gordon.
Gordon was named Most Valuable Player of the Mountain West Conference tournament. He scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds during the Lobos' 68-59 win over No. 18 San Diego State in the conference championship game.
'Drew is a heavy load,' 49ers' T.J. Robinson said. 'We have our duty cut out for us. If we play defense, and we do it well, I think we've got a pretty good chance.'
Long Beach State will have plenty of experience to draw on, as it prepares for a difficult second-round match up. The 49ers have faced five ranked opponents this season, including No. 6 Louisville, No. 13 Kansas, No. 9 Pittsburgh, No. 6 North Carolina and No. 15 Xavier.
'I think the advantage our schedule gives us is it gives us confidence that we know what the best teams in the country look like, play like, feels like to be on the court with them,' Monson said.
No. 5 New Mexico vs. No. 12 Long Beach State begins 30 minutes after the conclusion of Louisville vs. Davidson. That game starts at 10:40 a.m.