With the season a little over four months away, the University of New Mexico men’s basketball team finalized its non-conference schedule for the 2017-18 season.
The schedule of non-conference opponents features 13 games in total — eight at home in the newly named Dreamstyle Arena, five on the road.
The home games include a matchup with Arizona — the team’s first time at The Pit in nearly 20 years — and a Dec. 9 Rio Grande Rivalry matchup with new Lobo head coach Paul Weir’s former team, New Mexico State. Other notable home matchups include: Tennessee Tech, Rice and Nebraska-Omaha.
Nebraska-Omaha and Tennessee Tech’s visit to Dreamstyle Arena rounds out the first two games of the Emerald Coast Classic before the Lobos travel to Destin, Fla. to play TCU and either St. Bonaventure or Maryland in the very same tournament. From there, UNM will host Evansville on Nov. 29 in the 2017 Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge.
Other notable away games for the Lobos include visits to Colorado and UTEP.
Weir was pleased with the finishing touches on the Lobos’ non-conference schedule, saying the games against notable Power-5 programs show the University’s commitment to bringing competitiveness back to the program.
“To have a schedule where we can play up to four Power-5 programs says a lot about the commitment towards competitive scheduling,” Weir said in a UNM press release. “Continuing the series with UTEP going forward is another key component to bringing as many regional rivalries back as we can. Finally, our opening weekend series of games is an exciting opportunity for schools in the state to come together and propel ourselves forward in the future.”
The Lobos will open up the season up on Nov. 11 with a home matchup against Northern New Mexico, which is accompanied by games also played by other in-state institutions on Nov. 11-12, such as Eastern New Mexico, Western New Mexico, New Mexico Highlands and Fort Lewis.
Northern New Mexico, however, is the Lobos’ only non-Division I opponent in its non-conference schedule, as they play its season in the NAIA.
As for the Lobos’ other 12 non-conference games, the Bleacher Report projects Arizona’s ranking at No. 10 entering the 2017-18 season, while Fox Sports and USA Today list them at No. 1 in their predictions.
Five of those non-conference Division I schools also finished in the top-100 RPI rankings, which ran through April 3 of last season; those teams were New Mexico State (56), Arizona (5), TCU (52), St. Bonaventure (91) and Maryland (38), respectively. UTEP ranked 223 in last season’s RPI rankings, while the lowest-ranking of the 11 opponents comes in the likes of Prairie View who finished 306 in those same rankings, which is 45 spots from last place.
Tipoff times, however, have not been set, though UNM says those times will be released as the new season approaches.
Matthew Narvaiz is a senior sports reporter for the Daily Lobo. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @matt_narvaiz.