The thing that stands out from the numbers standpoint is how good the defense on both UTEP and New Mexico State should be, and how it isn't just concentrated in the frontcourts.
Sure when you have a Sim Bhullar or a John Bohannon, you expect some contribution inside. But both Daniel Mullings for New Mexico State and McKenzie Moore for UTEP provide the same level of defensive value from the backcourt.
That is really where you can see the difference when you dive into the Game Score factors for these two teams in the first game. Mullings was able to contribute more on the defensive side of the ball than Moore (and it didn't help that Moore ended up fouling out of the game).
As far as total value, it is still too early to look at this season's numbers, so we have to look at last year. This is again where the Aggies stand out.
Bhullar was the best of the bunch on the HOOPWAR scale with a HW30 of 5.3 wins last season. Mullings added another 4.2 and then Renaldo Dixon filled in at 1.4.
Bohannon had a score of 4.7 and Moore was at 3.2, but the next player on the list is Twymond Howard at 0.4.
After that both teams were struggling to find the positive value out on the court. Now, it is clear that some of that has turned around this season, with Julian Washburn grabbing some nice numbers in the first contest, and Tshilidzi Nephawe really producing for New Mexico State.
But it is that base of three that is really the difference, and we are talking two full wins over the course of the year that was the difference there. Sunk down into one game, the edge really goes to the Aggies, both based on last game's results and the core talent on the floor.
I think the game comes down to three things based on all these numbers:
- Moore generating the value that he obviously has, and not getting into foul trouble, and negating his worth to his team. This one is pretty obvious.
- Renaldo Dixon having another nice game off the bench. As we saw in his value numbers, he is a very important piece of the Aggies attack and his ability to do that to spell the starters will mean big things for New Mexico State
- Whomever has the bigger game between Nephawe and Washburn will really turn the tide. Both players are displaying the ability to have positive value seasons this year. If one of them can really turn on that faucet in this one, it will move the needle here.
The computer looks to be leaning to New Mexico State, but the three items above could shift things easily into the Miners' favor.