As everyone is in the final month of the 2012 year, New Mexico State University head coach Rocky Ward has announced the Aggies' schedule for the upcoming season.
NM State, who is coming off a 35-win season, a Western Athletic Conference regular-season co-championship and a trip to the NCAA Tournament, will play a total of 51 regular-season games, including 26 chances for Aggie fans to see their team at Presley Askew Field.
"The 2013 schedule is another challenging one for us," Ward said. "We will play a 27-game conference schedule for the first time in several years, but we still have some quality non-conference opponents as well."
The Aggies will play five teams that made the NCAA Tournament last season, including two teams that won a regional at the tournament and were part of the final 16-team field, two teams that will be part of the WAC this season and in-state rival New Mexico. Five of NM State's opponents also finished in the Top 40 of the NCAA Division I rankings, including three that finished in the Top 25.
NM State's non-conference home schedule is highlighted by games against Big 12 member Texas Tech on Mar. 25 and a meeting for I-25 bragging rights with the Lobos a week later on April 1. The Aggies will also travel to Albuquerque (April 17) and Lubbock (April 23) to conclude the home-and-home series with the Lobos and Red Raiders. NM State will also play 15 conference home games that include a three-game series against WAC newcomers Dallas Baptist (April 5-7) and UT-Arlington (April 26-28), both of whom made the NCAA tournament last season. Dallas-Baptist, who finished the season as the 23rd- ranked team in the country, made the tournament as an independent school, while UT-Arlington represented the Southland Conference in the tournament.
Aggie fans will get their first opportunity to see the 2013 edition of NM State baseball at the Annual Alumni Game, Feb. 9 at Presley Askew Field. The game will put the current Aggie team against a team compromised of former NM State baseball players.
The Aggies then begin their regular season at home with a three-game weekend series versus the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Feb. 15-17).
After its home-opener, NM State will embark on a grueling stretch that will see it play 10 of its next 13 games on the road, including an eight-game road trip to the east coast to play some of the best teams in the country and a trip to Oklahoma to play the Sooners, also one of the nation's best.
"The eastern swing in late February and the two-game set against Oklahoma on the road in mid-March will definitely be the toughest part of our schedule," Ward said.
The eastern trip begins with the Keith LeClaire Classic being held in Greenville, N.C. (Feb. 22-24). The Aggies will face East Carolina, who finished at No. 35 in the final NCAA rankings last season, Illinois and Ohio.
NM State then heads to Raleigh, N.C., for what might be the biggest challenge of the year for the Aggies, a two-game set with North Carolina State (Feb. 26-27). Last season the Wolfpack not only made the NCAA tournament, they hosted and won their regional and finished the season at No. 13 in the NCAA rankings, the highest ranking for any Aggie opponent in 2013.
Things don't get much easier for the Aggies as they conclude the east coast swing with three games against Wake Forest (March 1-3), also a Top 40 team last season.
NM State returns home for a three-game weekend series versus LaSalle (Mar. 8-10) before heading out on the road again to face Oklahoma (March 12-13). For the second time in a two-week span, the Aggies will face a team on the road that won a regional during last season's NCAA tournament and made it to the final 16-team field. The Sooners finished ranked 24th in the NCAA rankings after the 2012 season.
The Aggies finally come home for a sustained amount of time when they begin a seven-game home stand with a three-game series against Alabama A&M (March 15-17). NM State then proceeds to start conference play with three home games versus Texas State (March 22-24). A quick trip to California to play CSU-Bakersfield (March 28-30) is then sandwiched in between the home games against Texas Tech (non-conference) and New Mexico (non-conference).
After the home games against the Lobos and Dallas Baptist, NM State also has a three-game home series with Sacramento State (April 12-14) before heading to Albuquerque for the start of a six-game road trip which also includes four games at Louisiana Tech (April 19-21) and concludes in Lubbock.
The Aggies' final home stand of the season begins with the three-game series against UT-Arlington and concludes with three games versus San Jose State (May 3-5). NM State then finishes off its regular-season schedule with a three-game series with UTSA in San Antonio (May 10-12) and another three-game series at Seattle (May 16-18).
After their final regular-season game, the Aggies will travel to Grand Prairie, Texas, to compete in the 2013 WAC Tournament, which will be held May 22-26.