Stevens: Alford's Lobos To Hold Pit Party On Selection Day Sunday

March 7, 2013

NEW MEXICO LOBOS NCAA SELECTION SUNDAY PIT PARTY

When: 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday, March 17
Where: University Arena -- The Pit; All entrances open; concessions are open
Cost: Free to all Lobo fans
Parking: Free
Club Level: Open to the public thru Northeast & Northwest entrances. Suite holders can use their suite by contacting Joe McLean with the Lobo Club at joe.mclean@unmfund.org or 925-5017.

By Richard Stevens -- Senior Writer/GoLobos.com

It's a party destined to have a happy ending because Steve Alford's amazing Lobos will be NCAA dancing. But there is still some suspense waiting the Lobos on Selection Day Sunday. There are major questions to be answered.

What number will be tagged onto the Lobos' backs: No. 1. No. 2, No. 3? And who will be dancing first with the 2013 Mountain West champions? And where?

The Lobos are throwing an NCAA Selection Sunday Party in the sunken arena partly - and greatly - responsible for making this party a reality - The Pit. Party time is 3 p.m., to 6 p.m. on Sunday, March 17.

The Lobos also are inviting the rest of the Lobo family - their loyal fans - to join in the celebration as the Lobos find out where they will play in the NCAA Tournament, against what team - and what seed the Lobos will carry into the final fray.

"We have the best fans in the nation and we are hoping to pack The Pit on Selection Sunday," said Lobo Coach Steve Alford. "It wouldn't be the same, if we didn't share this moment with our fans. Our players and our program understand and appreciate how important our fans are to our success.

"We also want to show the nation that New Mexico basketball gets more fans for a Selection Show than most teams get for a game. We don't want any other team on that board to have more fans than we do for the live telecast.

"We'll be in the national spotlight and we want the nation to see the passion that surrounds this program and makes it so special."

The Lobos haven't yet officially earned their at-large bid into the 2013 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and New Mexico could make it automatic next week in Las Vegas by winning the Mountain West Tournament on the UNLV Rebels' home floor at the Thomas & Mack.

But, really, this is a done deal.

The 26-4 MW champions are ranked, have played one of the tougher schedules in the nation, and last week clinched the regular-season crown in one of the nation's top-rated conferences with a three-game lead with two to play. Amazing.

This was a league expecting to produce a champion with four or maybe five losses. What the Lobos did was exceptional. They have earned their dancing shoes.

Now, the Lobos are waiting to find out what kind of hand - and seed - will be dealt by the NCAA Selection Committee.

The Pit gates will open at 3 p.m., and the NCAA Selection Show will air between 4 p.m., and 5 p.m.. The CBS cameras will zoom live on the Lobos when their name is called on the bracket.

And when The Pit goes nuts, the cameras will show that, too.

It's going to be a great party honoring a special team and also showcasing an element of Lobo basketball that has few equals - The Pit fans. The big screens and all concourse TVs will air the CBS show. The UNM Spirit Program and the Lobo band will be doing their thing and concession stands will be open. There will be lots of Lobo gear available for purchase.

The Pit event is sponsored by KRQE-News 13.

The No. 11/12 ranked Lobos (as of this week) will be one of several teams featured live on the CBS production that unveils the 2013 NCAA bracket to the world of March Madness.

Yes, the Road to Atlanta's Georgia Dome will make a Pit stop before it moves to first-session sites at Dayton, Detroit, Lexington, Salt Lake City, San Jose, Austin, Kansas City and Philadelphia.

So, where will the Lobos go - Austin, Salt Lake City, Kansas City or maybe they'll find the way to San Jose?

The Lobos' first shot at NCAA postseason came in 1968. The Lobos played two games in The Pit that year, losing to Santa Clara 86-73 and losing to New Mexico State 62-58. The Lobos' highest seed was No. 3 in 1997. UNM beat Old Dominion 59-55 and lost to Louisville in a 64-63 heartbreaker.

Here's a rundown of the Selection Sunday Party planned for The Pit:

  • A welcome from Lobo basketball.
  • Big Screen and concourse TV monitors will be active for the CBS NCAA Selection Sunday show.
  • Concessions will be open.
  • Lobo spirit squads and band will attend.
  • Lobo Den Store will be open selling officially licensed Lobo merchandise.