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Washington vs. New Mexico

The No. 3 New Mexico Lobos are the only high seed not favored by the oddsmakers in the NCAA Tournament on Saturday as they face off against the No. 11 Washington Huskies as the underdog.

The opening line for this second-round contest had the Lobos listed as a 1.5-point underdog at Bovada. The obvious answer to this slight to the No. 3 ranked Lobos is an injury to leading scorer Darington Hobson.

In the Lobos’ opening-round game against No. 14 Montana, Hobson fell awkwardly and suffered what was later found to be a sprained wrist. Hobson played through the injury, which according to him included a lot of pain, and the Lobos survived a near-scare with a 62-57 win over Montana. The Lobos were an 8.5-point favorite and failed to cover the spread.

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At times against Montana it looked like New Mexico was headed for an early tournament exit. They trailed 29-28 at halftime and despite a 17-0 run coming out of the break they were unable to completely pull away from Montana and had to fight for the victory until the final buzzer.

Roman Martinez led the Lobos with 19 points, six rebounds, and four assists, while Dairese Gary chipped in with 15 points. Hobson, playing with the injured wrist, delivered 11 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. He’s listed as probable for Saturday’s game but since this is the NCAA Tournament you know he’ll be playing.

The Lobos will need more than just a productive Hobson to topple Washington. They also need to improve on the outside shooting and free throws from Thursday to avoid a second-round exit. Against Montana the Lobos shot only 25% from three-point range and a lame 56% from the charity stripe.

Washington already has one tournament upset on their resume after taking down No. 6 Marquette in the opening round. The Huskies were a 1-point underdog and knocked off the Golden Eagles 80-78.

Quincy Poindexter secured the win for Washington with a key offensive rebound late in the second half and he followed it up with the game-winning bank shot with 1.7 seconds remaining. Poindexter finished the game with 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Isaiah Thomas also delivered a strong performance with 19 points and eight assists.

Overall the Huskies shot extremely well in the win, 54% from the floor and an awesome 9-of-14, or 69%, from beyond the arc. It wasn’t a smooth ride over Marquette, though. After a horrible start to the second half the Huskies actually trailed 60-45 before clamping down on the Golden Eagles. Marquette didn’t make a single field goal from the floor in the final 4:33 and the Huskies took advantage to quickly cut into their big lead.

A win by the Huskies would put them into the Sweet 16 for the first time since they made back-to-back trips to the Sweet 16 in 2005 and 2006. Both years they failed to advance to the Elite Eight. If the Lobos win it would be the first time in school history that they have made it past the second round of the tournament.

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