Ritchie McKay already got his walking papers and it looks Ray Giacoletti is on the verge of receiving his. Yup, today's game against the Lobos could best be described as one led by two lame ducks. And though Giacoletti still has a job, with losses mounting, it's looking more and more unlikely he will be returning for a fourth year. So how will this alter the performance of either team? Well this will be New Mexico's first game since the athletic department informed McKay he wouldn't be returning next year. That could play in the favor of a Lobos team looking to rally behind their now jobless (at the end of the season) coach. For Utah, well I think the players have already given up on Giacoletti, so I don't think this would impact their play in the least.
Today's game pits two teams tied for the second worst record in the conference. The winner will most likely miss out on an appearance in the Play-In game that kicks off the Mountain West Conference Tournament. Which really isn't that big of a prize, but hell when you're 4-9 in conference play, you'll take what you can get.
Utah is 50-5 against the Lobos in Salt Lake City and haven't lost to the New Mexico at home in 18 years. Though with how many bad records Giacoletti has broken since taking over the coaching job at Utah, that could change. Like Utah, New Mexico has struggled on the road, only going 2-9 away from home overall this season. Utah is 7-6 at home this season, one of their poorest home records in modern history.
Wednesday night Utah lost to Wyoming up in Laramie, while the Lobos are coming off a 74-58 home victory over TCU. New Mexico averages 75 points per game on 46% shooting. They also shoot 38% from behind the arc. The last time these two teams met, the Lobos won 86-82 in overtime. Luke Nevill, who missed Wednesday's game against the Cowboys, is questionable for today's game.
The Lobos are horrid, but so are the Utes and I expect the play of this game to be a direct result of each team's downfalls. It could get sloppy, especially if Utah lacks Nevill's presence inside. But even without Nevill I think Utah wins, I just don't see them dropping a game to a team like New Mexico at home. Of course, I really didn't see them losing to Southern Utah and Albany at home either.
Utah needs this win, or it might doom them to their first 20-loss season in the program's 99 year history. Ouch.