In most years, Harvard would be a prime candidate to peg as a bracket buster. A 14-seed typically has a 15 percent shot, historically speaking, to knock off a 3-seed and most amateur gamblers have to like those odds. A 14-seed is even more tempting to pick when the 3-seed in question is almost as much of an unknown, historically speaking, as its opponent.
But know this before you move Harvard along to the second line: New Mexico is a legit powerhouse this year. Steve Alford’s boys tore through a better-than-usual Mountain West Conference and wound up with a 29-5 overall record. Of those five losses, only one was to a non-NCAA tournament team (a one-point loss to Air Force). Saint Louis, South Dakota State, UNLV and San Diego State allotted for the other four defeats.
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Alford, who was one of Hall of Fame coach Bobby Knight’s more famed pupils at Indiana once upon a time, certainly does not lack confidence in his current team.
"We weren't picked to win (the Mountain West) at all," Alford told ESPN last week. "We were picked anywhere from third to fifth. We dominated the league. We won it by two games. … I’ll put our starting five up against anybody.”
Star swingman Tony Snell also believes the Lobos are destined for bigger things than simply a slot in the NCAAs.
"We've got a lot of momentum right now," Snell told ESPN. " We're going to set our sights high. I don't see any reason we can't go in there and win the whole thing."
Snell, a 6-foot-7 junior, is averaging 12.6 ppg, just behind fellow guard Kendall Williams (13.5 ppg) for tops on the team.
Follow Metro Boston sports editor Matt Burke on Twitter @BurkeMetroBOS