Preview: New Mexico Lobos

Despite coaching change, Lobos favored to win MWC title

Updated: October 2, 2013, 10:39 AM ET
By Jeff Nusser | ESPN Insider

Steve Alford and Craig NealDerrick Tuskan/Icon SMICraig Neal comes to the fore as the Lobos' head coach in 2013-14.

New Mexico Lobos

2012-13: 29-6 (13-3 Mountain West)
In-conference offense: 1.04 points per possession (4th)
In-conference defense: 0.93 points allowed per possession (1st)

When Steve Alford suddenly departed for UCLA just 10 days after New Mexico had announced a new 10-year deal with its coach, athletic director Paul Krebs resisted any urge to pursue a splashy hire and opted instead to promote assistant coach Craig Neal into the top spot. Despite Neal's lack of experience -- this is his first head coaching job -- the decision to favor continuity made a lot of sense, given that four of five starters return from a team that won the tough MWC by two games and earned a No. 3 seed in the NCAA tournament.