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December 19, 2014

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San Diego State, New Mexico dancing to different tunes with NCAA Tournament fates

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

San Diego State forward Skylar Spencer and New Mexico’s Kendall Williams, Cameron Bairstow and Alex Kirk head to their respective benches for a time out during their Mountain West Conference tournament championship game Saturday, March 15, 2014 at the Thomas & Mack Center. The Lobos won their third straight title, defeating the Lobos 64-58.

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San Diego State student Joseph Enright and the rest of the student section cheer on the Aztecs against New Mexico during the first half of their Mountain West Conference tournament championship game Saturday, March 15, 2014 at the Thomas & Mack Center.

There wasn’t any Selection Sunday drama for Mountain West teams on the bubble because the only two teams in the field knew they would be dancing. Still, San Diego State and New Mexico needed to find out their seeds and pairings, and the committee’s decisions probably elicited very different results for the two teams who just met for the Mountain West tournament final on Saturday.

The Aztecs (29-4) received a No. 4 seed against No. 13 seed New Mexico State in Spokane, Wash. Meanwhile, the Lobos (27-6) were three spots lower with a No. 7 seed against No. 10 seed Stanford in St. Louis.

It certainly seems like a low seed for a team that finished only one game behind San Diego State in the regular season, defeated the Aztecs in the tournament and also has a win against Cincinnati, which received a No. 5 seed.

However, that’s the hand that’s been dealt to the Lobos, who would face the winner of No. 2 seed Kansas vs. No. 15 seed Eastern Kentucky if they defeat the Cardinal. New Mexico lost to Kansas by 17 earlier this season in a game played in Kansas City, Mo.

If the Aztecs need any scouting advice for their Round of 64 game, they should just call up Lobos coach Craig Neal. New Mexico and New Mexico State play a home-and-home series, so the Lobos are very familiar with the Aggies. This season those teams split with each one winning on the other’s home court.

If the Aztecs win, they could get a familiar foe in Oklahoma, led by former UNLV coach Lon Kruger. Not only does SDSU know Kruger from his Rebels days, but the Aztecs also defeated Oklahoma by 15 in last year’s Round of 64 as a 7 vs. 10 matchup.

That was one of only two victories for the Mountain West, which last year sent a record five teams into the field (Colorado State was the other win). Although the selection committee isn’t supposed to factor in past years' results, that will certainly be discussed as a reason for New Mexico’s No. 7 seed considering the Lobos’ loss to Harvard as a No. 3 seed last season.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at twitter.com/taylorbern.

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