Last season, the Lobos were 8-10 in conference play and 22-12 overall. In the Mountain West Preseason Poll, the Lobos were selected to finish third this season. Under Head Coach Richard Pitino and assistant coaches, the University of New Mexico looks promising for the upcoming season.
Colorado State - Last Season: 15-18
Jan. 2, Away
The Lobos will start conference play strong, redeeming their 92-84 loss at Colorado State last February and coming back to Albuquerque with a win. With six new players on the Rams, the Lobos have the opportunity to take the win being the more experienced and practiced team.
Feb. 21, Home
At the second meet up against the Rams, the Lobos will have the home court advantage and the win. Having already gone up against the Rams in January, the Lobos will have had the chance to see how they work on the court this season and will get a second opportunity to step up and dominate at the hoop.
Wyoming - Last Season: 9-22
Jan. 6, Home
The Lobos beat the Cowboys in competitive games last season and will do so again this year. The Cowboys lost to the Lobos 76-75 and 87-76 last season and will be anxious to redeem themselves, but will fall just short of a win. Both teams have strong athletes and competitive coaches, but the Lobos will win in a close game.
Feb. 6, Away
Exactly one month after the Cowboys lose to the Lobos, they will lose again but this time in Laramie. With UNM’s Jamal Mashburn and Jaelen House both being selected to the Pre-Season All Mountain West Team, the Lobo backcourt has what it takes to pull off a second win against Wyoming.
UNLV - Last Season: 19-13
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Jan. 9, Away
The Rebels were the second team to hand the Lobos a loss last season. The Rebels top shooter from last season, EJ Harkless who averaged 19.1 points per game, is gone and it provides UNM’s Mashburn – who was the Lobos top scorer – the opening he needs to help his team overpower the Rebels. This year the Lobos will secure the win in Vegas.
Feb. 10, Home
Once again, the Lobos will win against the Rebels, but in a close game. With many returning players on the Rebels from last season, the Lobos will already have an idea as to how they move the ball on the court. The Lobos will need to keep their momentum in order to take the win.
San Diego State - Last Season: 32-7
Jan. 13, Home
The Aztecs are currently predicted to finish first in the Mountain West this season, but the Lobos will take this win. After losing to San Diego at home last year, the Lobos are hungry for a win. With seven newcomers on the Aztecs’ roster, the Lobos can use that to their advantage on the court.
Feb. 16, Away
The Aztecs are last season’s Mountain West reigning champions, and will remind the Lobos of that on their trip to San Diego and hand UNM a loss. These are two competitive teams with smart coaches, but ultimately the Aztecs will send the Lobos back to Albuquerque with a loss.
Utah State - Last Season: 26-9
Jan. 16, Home
The Lobos will redeem their 84-73 and 91-76 losses to the Aggies from last season and win at The Pit. Utah was the runner up Mountain West champion last season. The Aggies new Head Coach Danny Sprinkle brought on almost an entirely new team this season. With UNM having many returning players from last season, they will show the Aggies what it means to be a Lobo.
Mar. 9, Away
The Aggies will defeat the Lobos in Logan, Utah. Although the Aggies have a new coach and a fresh roster, Sprinkle is a well seasoned coach and knows what it means to coach a winning team. Having played the Lobos once and seen how they move the ball, the Aggies will pull off a close win over the Lobos.
Air Force - Last Season: 14-18
Jan. 20, Away
The Lobos took a loss last time they played the Falcons in Colorado. This season, the Falcons’ roster is made up entirely of sophomores and juniors from the Academy. With the Lobos having more veteran and experienced players, they will pull off a close win and come home successful.
Feb. 24, Home
With the home court advantage, the Lobos will hand the Falcons another loss. When the Lobos played the Falcons at The Pit last year, it was one of the most attended home games of the season with 15,143 fans packed into the arena. With the support of Lobo fans again, UNM shouldn’t fall to their opponent.
San José State - Last Season: 21-14
Jan. 24, Away
The last time the Spartans played the Lobos, they lost by nearly 30 points, 96-68. With the Spartans’ standout seniors of last season – Omari Moore and Sage Tolbert III – gone, the Lobos will beat the Spartans again and return to Albuquerque victorious.
Nevada - Last Season: 22-11
Jan. 28, Home
The Lobos lost to the Wolf Pack twice last season. In their first matchup this season, the Lobos will come short of a win. The Wolf Pack has a roster packed with returning players, and without Udeze at forward, the Lobos could struggle to compete with Nevada’s Tré Coleman.
Feb. 13, Away
History will repeat itself, and like last year, the Lobos will lose to the Wolf Pack in both games. The first matchup between the two teams will have given UNM the opportunity to see where the Wolf Pack is strongest on the court. But with just two weeks to prepare for this second game against Nevada, it won’t be enough for the Lobos to take the win.
Boise State - Last Season: 24-10
Jan. 31, Home
The Broncos are ranked second in the Mountain West, but the Lobos will hand them a loss. The Broncos only averaged 2.9 blocks per game last season while the Lobos had an average of 3.9. UNM will take this win at The Pit.
Mar. 2, Away
With returning players Tyson Degenhart who led the Broncos with 481 points last season, and Max Rice with a three point average of .409, Boise State beat the Lobos in a close game. The Lobos will be sent back to New Mexico with a loss after this second matchup.
Fresno State - Last Season: 11-20
Mar. 6, Home
The Lobos were 1-1 against the Bulldogs last season. This season in their line matchup along with having the second most losses last season, the Bulldogs will lose to the Lobos in Albuquerque. The Bulldogs will play hard against UNM, but it won’t be enough to keep up with the Lobos.
Following this prediction, the Lobos will finish 2023-24 conference play 13-5, redeeming losses from last season. If the Lobos play strong, they could bring the Mountain West Championship back to Albuquerque for the first time in almost a decade.
Francesca Cicconetti is a beat reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @fran_cicconetti.
Francesca Cicconetti is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be reached on Twitter @fran_cicconetti