Bradley vs. New Mexico: Preview, Live Stream, Radio, Odds
New Mexico plays a solid Bradley squad on the road in the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge
The Lobos have an opportunity for a nice road win
WEEK 10: New Mexico Lobos (3-1, 0-0 Mountain West) vs. Bradley Braves (6-2, 0-0 Missouri Valley)
WHEN: Saturday, December 1 — 6:00 PM MT/5:00 PM PT
WHERE: Carver Arena; Peoria, Illinois (11,433)
ODDS: Bradley -7
The New Mexico Lobos (3-1) travel to Peoria, Illinois to challenge the Bradley Braves (6-2).
Coming off of a loss to Horizon League foe IUPUI, Bradley will be hungry for a fifth straight home win this season. New Mexico is coming into the game after a week off for the second straight week. Their last game was a home win against the UTEP Miners on Nov. 24.
The Braves have historically fared well on their home floor, and are off to a hot start when playing in Carver Arena this season. They also have quality neutral site wins (via the Cancun Challenge) over top 100 programs (per KenPom) in Penn State (37) and SMU (81) and are 4-0 on their home floor.
With Bradley sitting at a current KenPom rating of 113, this will be a solid test for the Lobos (3-1). Arguably, New Mexico’s best win thus far has come over the Iona Gaels at home, who are rated just 183 in the same analytics system.
So far this season, defense, lateral quickness and scoring guards listed below six feet tall have been weaknesses for New Mexico. As such, Lobo fans may be wondering if one of those dreaded sub-six-feet-tall guards will be on the other side of the bench.
Unfortunately for the Lobos, Bradley’s leading scorer is Darrell Brown, a 5-10, 190 pound scoring guard who passes the ball well.
Brown is averaging 14.5 points per game and 3.8 assists per game to go along with his 44.7% three point field goal percentage. Underlying his solid stat line, though, is a turnover rate of 2.4 per game, which leads his team. This is noteworthy, as this Bradley team is one that isn’t intended for high possession games. Rather, they value a more deliberate, slow-paced brand of basketball, which ranks 298th in adjusted tempo.
This could bode well for the Lobos if they are able to keep the game at their pace. But as Paul Weir noted, enforcing the Lobo brand of basketball will require a greater sense of urgency from his players.
“We’ve got to get back to forcing more of [our own pace] as opposed to expecting more of that. . . Last year I don’t think we ever even had the luxury to think that way – nobody did. Even when we were winning games at one point, I don’t anyone ever went back into the locker room going like ‘we’re the best team in the league’. We just went into every game going like, ‘they’re better than us, we’ve got to figure this thing out’. We just went at every possession with an urgency because we didn’t think we were better than any of those teams. . .This year, unfortunately (or fortunately), we’ve gone in thinking, ‘it’s just a matter of time, we’re going to get there’.”
An “it’s just a matter of time” mentality likely won’t work against the Braves. Bradley is a team with experience, including nine juniors and seniors on their roster, seven of which earn regular minutes in the rotation and they’re capable of taking care of the ball, even against stiff defense.
In contrast to the Lobos’ 17.3 turnovers per game (335th in NCAA Division I basketball), the Braves are tied for 99th in turnovers per game, coughing the ball up nearly five times per game less than the Lobos at 12.5 times per game. Even against a top defensive squad in Penn State (ranked 9th in adjusted defensive efficiency per KenPom), they turned the ball over only 12 times. This could mean that a Lobo team with seven freshman and sophomores in the rotation could have some issues forcing their pace if they don’t buy into Weir’s recent emphases at practice.
Though it may not be the ideal way to find their potential, New Mexico has shown what they can do when down big, especially in the fourth quarter. If the Lobos can play like they are down 20 from the start and force their pace, they’ll come out with a quality road win.
The Missouri Valley currently leads the Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge by a count of 3-5. New Mexico and San Diego State both play Saturday, giving the opportunity for a tie for the second year in a row if Mountain West teams go 2-0 in the challenge.