NMSU, Clemson not paying attention to talk leading up to Friday's game

NMSU prepares for Clemson

If you look at any sports web site or a watch a few minutes of NCAA Tournament coverage, you're likely to run into someone picking NMSU to upset Clemson in their NCAA Tournament matchup on Friday. 

In fact, six of eight experts polled by CBS Sports selected 12th-seeded NMSU to not only beat 5th-seeded Clemson, but make it to the Sweet 16.  Charles Barkley himself predicted that the Aggies would defeat the Tigers during the NCAA Tournament Selection Show on Sunday. 

While it's fun for fans and members of the media to make predictions, both the Aggies and Tigers are trying to avoid buying into the hype leading up to the game. 

The fact that 12-seeds, like NMSU, have beaten 5-seeds in nine of the past 20 contests is certainly a well-known fact, but it's not something the Aggies are not even thinking about. 

"I don't think it helps us.  It doesn't score any points for us," said NMSU head coach Chris Jans. "I don't see any reason that [our players] won't handle being an upset pick by the experts across the country, but the bottom line is it's not going to have any outcome in terms of the final result."

While it's reasonable to think some members of the Clemson program might be upset at the number of people picking the Aggies to beat them, the Tigers say they have nothing but respect for NMSU. 

"I mean, I just think there are so many good teams, so many good players.  They already beat Miami in our league.  Miami is a top 20 program," said Clemson head coach Brad Brownell.  "That's just what it is.  A lot of mid-major teams would come into our league and do very well." 

Both teams are looking for elusive success in the NCAA Tournament. 

NMSU has not won a game in the Big Dance since 1993.  But their wins from '93 and '92 were vacated.  So, technically, NMSU's last NCAA Tournament win that counts came in 1970 - the year they made their lone Final Four appearance. 

Clemson is making its first appearance in the tournament since 2011, when they won their opening game. That win against UAB in 2011 is one of only three only tournament victories since 1990 for the Tigers.  

NMSU and Clemson are expected to tip-off at 7:57 p.m. MST Friday on TruTV.  


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