NMSU To Host Northern Colorado in ESPNU Bracketbuster Game


POSTED: Monday, January 31, 2011 - 5:20pm

UPDATED: Monday, January 31, 2011 - 10:37pm

The New Mexico State men’s basketball team hosts Northern Colorado, Feb. 19, in the ESPNU BracketBuster game. The Aggies have the home court advantage this season after traveling a year ago. Game time will be announced at a later date.

“Geographically, I’m happy with the draw,” head coach Marvin Menzies said. “It’s relatively easy travel for the return trip next year. It’s good, strong competition to have here and in the second round of conference games, it will be nice to see new faces. I’m disappointed we didn’t get a TV game but we can’t worry about things we don’t control.”

Currently, Northern Colorado is 11-8 and 7-1 in the Big Sky Conference. The Bears had a seven-game win streak snapped with a 72-71 loss at Weber State, Jan. 29. Redshirt senior guard Devon Beitzel leads Northern Colorado with 19.1 points per game while redshirt senior forward Neal Kingman adds 11.2 points per contest.

The Bears have a 2-0 lead in the all-time series but the teams haven’t met since the 1941-42 season. Northern Colorado won both previous games, 36-31 in overtime, Dec. 18, 1941, and 35-30, Dec. 19, 1941, in Las Cruces.

After a pair of WAC wins, NM State is 12-11 and 6-3 in conference play. Junior forward Troy Gillenwater posts a team-high 19.7 points and 6.9 rebounds per game while junior guard Hernst Laroche contributes 11.6 points and 4.7 assists per contest.

The Aggies are 5-0 in BracketBuster games and have played four of the last five contests in Las Cruces. Last season, NM State outlasted Pacific, 84-78, Feb. 20, 2010, in Stockton, Calif. 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 its first road game, NM State beat Pacific in overtime, 79-69, Feb. 18, 2006, in Stockton, Calif.

The ninth annual BracketBusters event, a three-day men’s college basketball extravaganza pitting potential NCAA Tournament hopefuls against each other Feb. 18-20, features 11 nationally televised games-on either ESPN2 or ESPNU-selected from a pool of 114 teams. For the sixth straight year, ESPNU, the 24-hour college sports network, will televise five BracketBusters games while ESPN2 will televise six contests.

The BracketBusters concept, named because of the success of teams from these conferences in NCAA Tournament play through the years, provides participating programs with an opportunity to play top non-conference opponents about three weeks before Selection Sunday. Each conference selected its participating teams before the season, and the matchups for the event were determined by ESPN in conjunction with the conferences.

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