NMSU to host Drake in ESPNU Bracketbuster game


POSTED: Monday, January 30, 2012 - 5:52pm

UPDATED: Monday, January 30, 2012 - 6:38pm

The New Mexico State men's basketball team has been selected to host Drake, Feb. 18, in a nationally televised Sears BracketBuster game on ESPNU at 1 p.m. The Aggies have home court advantage for the second consecutive season.

Currently, Drake is 13-9 and 10-2 in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Bulldogs defeated Wichita State, 93-86, in triple overtime, Jan. 28 to snap a two-game losing skid. Sophomore guard Rayvonte Rice has a team-high 17.3 points per game, while junior forward Ben Simons adds 16.2 points per game.

NM State leads the all-time series 16-9. The Aggies are 11-2 in games played in Las Cruces against the former conference foes, but they haven't met since the 1982-83 season.

The Aggies are 15-7 and 5-2 in WAC play after they defeated Fresno State, 60-56, Jan. 28. NM State has three players in double figures with redshirt senior Wendell McKines leading the way with 18.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game. Senior guard Hernst Laroche provides 12.2 points per game, and senior center Hamidu Rahman adds 10.0 points per game.

NM State is 5-1 in BracketBuster games. Last season, the Aggies suffered their first loss in the BracketBuster series, a two-point heartbreaker, 82-80, to Northern Colorado, Feb. 19, 2011 in Las Cruces. NM State outlasted Pacific, 84-78, Feb. 20, 2010, in Stockton, Calif. In Las Cruces, the Aggies defeated Cal State Fullerton, 94-86, Feb. 21, 2009, after it crushed Long Beach State, 80-48, Feb. 23, 2008. The Aggies edged Ohio, 77-72, Feb. 17, 2007 in Las Cruces. In its first road game, NM State beat Pacific in overtime, 79-69, Feb. 18, 2006, in Stockton, Calif.

Sears BracketBusters will feature 13 nationally televised games across ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU and ESPN3 selected from 142 eligible teams - the largest pool in the event's history. ESPNU will air five games; ESPN2 and ESPN3 each have two exclusive; and four flex options to be televised on ESPN or ESPN2 (determined approximately one week before the game).

The Sears BracketBusters concept, named because of the success of participating teams from these conferences in NCAA Championship play through the years, provides programs with an opportunity to play top non-conference opponents roughly three weeks before Selection Sunday. Each conference selects its participating teams before the season, and the matchups for the event are determined by ESPN in conjunction with the conferences. Sears BracketBusters X is an example of ESPN college basketball franchise programming. Others include Rivalry Week, Feast Week Presented by Lowe's, Holiday Hoops Presented by Kay Jewelers and Judgment Week and Championship Week Presented by DICK'S Sporting Goods.

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