2023 NIT First Round: New Mexico vs. Utah Valley-First Look At The Wolverines

2023 NIT First Round: New Mexico vs. Utah Valley-First Look At The Wolverines

Mountain West Basketball

2023 NIT First Round: New Mexico vs. Utah Valley-First Look At The Wolverines


2023 NIT First Round: New Mexico vs. Utah Valley-First Look At The Wolverines

Who are the Wolverines?

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The Lobos are set to host Utah Valley in the first round of the NIT. 

The New Mexico Lobos enjoyed a very successful year two of the Pitino era this past season in Albuquerque. With a reinvigorated community, showing up in force and a quality product on the floor the Lobos thrived.

Although, it may have seemed like all was right again in Albuquerque heading into conference play. New Mexico wasn’t immune to the strength and challenging nature of the Mountain West this season.

After boasting several big wins over the conference’s best, a February decline forced the Lobos into first day action in the Mountain West Tournament. And an quarterfinal exit against a Utah State squad that would fall to San Diego State in the finals. So, to the NIT New Mexico goes. To host the Utah Valley Wolverines on Wednesday.

Who are the Wolverines


Utah Valley is coached by head coach Mark Madsen. The 4th year lead man was a nine year NBA veteran, winning two championships as a member of the Kobe Bryant & Shaquille O’Neal led Los Angeles Lakers.

His stop in Orem is his first stint in collegiate coaching, aside from being an assistant at Stanford. Prior to that, Madsen was the head coach of the Los Angeles D-Fenders. The Los Angeles Laker’s D-League affiliate at the time.

Madsen has lead the Wolverines to two regular season WAC Championships. Amassing a record of 67-50 (57.3%) in the process. Not to mention the 2022-2023 WAC Coach of the Year award.

Star Players

Jr. G-Le’tre Darthard (6-4, 180)

Stats: 14.2 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 1.5 APG & 1.2 SPG

Sr. G-Trey Woodbury (6-4, 200)

Stats: 13.5 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 4.8 APG, 1.0 SPG & 40% 3FG

So. C-Aziz Bandaogo (7-0, 230)

Stats: 11.5 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 1.2 APG & 3.0 BPG

How did they get here

The Wolverines lost their WAC Player of the Year big man Fardaws Aimaq to the transfer portal last offseason. But managed to retain plenty of the rest of their production. Also finding a candidate to replace the 6-11 rebounding machine in the paint. Akron transfer Aziz Bandaogo, who managed to average a double-double to go along with 3.0 BPG, leading the WAC.

Locked and reload for the 2022-2023 season, Utah Valley managed to secure some quality road wins over in-state rival BYU (in back to back years) along with a win over Oregon in Eugene.

Priming the Wolverines for another rigorous WAC slate going forward. Where Utah Valley managed to secure the regular season crown unanimously after defeating their biggest threat Sam Houston in their only meeting on December 29th. All of this in combination with an early exit from the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas last week led a very dangerous Wolverines squad to the NIT. For their second appearance in the postseason tournament in school history.

Biggest Wins:

@-BYU 75-60

@-Oregon 77-72

At home-Sam Houston 80-64

NET:  74th

KenPom:  79th

RPI:  61st

Larry Muniz covers college basketball as a writer for Mountain West Wire and WAC Hoops Digest. Also as a co-host of the college basketball podcast “Hoops Talk W/Jay & Larry”. He is also a USWBA Member.


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