Ultimate Miners Bracket: (8) 1967 Miners v.s. (9) 1987 Miners

The defending champs returned most of their key players for 1967's team including Bobby Joe, Lattin, Shed, Cager, and Worsley, but were injury-plagued. How would they do against the likes of Hardaway, Jeep, Soup, Richmond, Gates, and Sandle?

1967 UTEP Miners

David Lattin, JR, 47.3 %, 10.1, 15.1
Willie Worsley, JR, 38.6%, 3.0, 12.2
Nevil Shed, SR, 46.1%, 7.5, 10.3
Willie Cager, JR, 40.1%, 5.6, 9.4
Phil Harris, SO, 43.9%, 6.4, 7.9
David Palacio, JR, 35.9%, 3.5, 7.5
Fred Carr, JR, 50%, 6.0, 5.6 (Only played 5 games)
Kenny John, SO, 40.9%, 1.9, 5.3
Bobby Joe Hill, SR, 32.6%, 1.1, 4.9 (Only played 8 games)
Dick Myers, SR, 40.0%, 1.4, 2.2
Gary Crowell, SO, 26.3%, 1.7, 1.0
Tony Harper, JR, 44.4%, 0.1, 1.0
Togo Railey, SR, 33.3%, 0.1, 0.5
Mike Echols, SO, 20%, 0.2, 0.3

TEAM STATS, FG% __ FT% ___ RPG ___ PPG
Miners ___ 41.8% __ 68.8% ___ 48.6 ___ 70.0
Opp. ___ 38.3% ___ 69.1% ___ 41.1 ___ 59.8

This was the year that could have been for the Miners. The defending champs lost only Orsten Artis and Harry Flournoy as major contributors from the magical 1966 season. Willie Worsley had a breakout year and Lattin, Hill, Cager, and Shed were returning. Unfortunately, Bobby Joe Hill was lost for the season with an injury after only 8 games. In addition, Nevil Shed was ruled academically ineligible right before the NCAA Tournament (much like Fab Melo was for Syracuse this past year). Still, the Miners managed to outscore opponents by an average of 10 points and keep a formidable rebound margin over their rivals as well. David Lattin averaged a double-double for the season.

- Lost to #5 New Mexico Lobos at home by 9
- Beat the Kansas Jayhawks in overtime on a neutral court in Chicago
- Lost to New Mexico State twice, 55-68 in El Paso and 53-64 in Las Cruces
- The 1967 Miners played 6 regular season games against eventual tournament teams (only 23 teams were invited to the Big Dance in '67). The Miners went 3-3 against these opponents with wins against SMU on the road, Kansas on a neutral court, and Seattle at home and losses to NMSU twice and Seattle on the road.

As noted, the '67 Miners were without Bobby Joe Hill and Nevil Shed for the Tourney. The Miners drew the Seattle Chieftains as their first round opponent in the West Regional, the same team that gave the '66 Miners their only loss of the season and a team they had already played twice during the regular season. The Miners won the rubber match with Seattle being led by the 3-headed monster of Lattin-Worsley-Cager. The Miners then fell to Pacific in the Sweet Sixteen despite having four players score in double figures. The Miners won their consolation game against Wyoming with Lattin scoring 34 points. Pacific would go on to lose in the Elite Eight to eventual champ UCLA. The rest of the 1967 Final Four included Dayton, North Carolina, and Houston.

1987 UTEP Miners
25-7 (13-3, WAC 1st)

ROSTER ______ FG% __ RPG __ PPG __ APG
Jeep Jackson,SR, 51.4% _ 2.0 ___ 12.9 __ 3.4
Chris Sandle, JR, 48.2% _ 4.9 ___ 12.9 __ 1.2
Mike Richmond, SR 57.8 _ 6.4 ___ 12.7 __ 0.5
Quintan Gates, SR 42.2% _ 5.4 ___ 10.9 _ 1.4
Chris Blocker, JR 49.5% __ 3.2 ___ 10.6 __ 2.3
Tim Hardaway, SO 50.2% __ 2.0 __ 10.0 __ 4.7
Wayne Campbell, JR 62.9 __ 6.2 __ 8.3 __ 0.7
Terry Stallworth, SO 36.7% _ 1.1 __ 2.2 ___ 0.5
Jerry Jones, FR 50% ____ 1.5 __ 0.0 ___ 0.0
Antonio Davis, FR 34.4% ___ 1.8 __ 1.3 ___ 0.1
Merle Heimer, FR 30 % ____ 0.5 __ 0.6 ___ 0.0

TEAM STATS ___ FG% ___ FT% ___ RPG ___ PPG ___ APG
Miners ________50.6 % _ 67.5% __ 34.4 ___ 77.4 ___ 14.3
Opponent _____ 46.1 % _ 67.1% __ 33.3 ___ 69.0 ___ 11.1

The 1987 Miners were the only Don Haskins coached team to have 6 (six!) players average double figures in scoring. Wayne Campbell was close to being the 7th with 8.3 ppg. Hardaway, Sandle, and Jackson all earned All-WAC team honors. In 1987, Haskins became the first coach to lead his team to 5 straight WAC regular season titles. These Miners also have the record for 3-point %, steals, and turnovers forced. Of course, the 1967 Miners did not have the benefit of the 3-point line.

- Lost the season-opener to Oregon State
- Beat the New Mexico State Aggies twice
- Lost to #10 Georgetown by 4 on the road
- Beat the Texas Longhorns and Auburn Tigers to win the Sun Carnival Classic
- Lost to Wyoming in the WAC Tournament
- The 1987 Miners played 5 games against eventual NCAA Tournament teams, going 2-3. They beat Auburn and Wyoming and lost to Wyoming twice (regular season and WAC Tourney) and Georgetown on the road.

The 1987 Miners were given a 7-seed but drew the 10-seeded Arizona Wildcats on their homecourt in Tucson. Nonetheless, UTEP beat Lute Olsen's Arizona team in overtime despite having Campbell, Hardaway, Sandle, and Gates foul out in regulation. In the second round UTEP lost to the 2-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes by just 2 points. Iowa would go on to lose in the Elite Eight to UNLV. The Final Four in 1987 included the champion Indiana Hoosiers, Syracuse, Providence, and UNLV.

This matchup is hard to figure for a couple of reasons. Aside the fact that they played in 2 totally distinct basketball eras, how do we decide who to include on the 1967 team. In our imaginary matchup do we allow Nevil Shed to play even though he was academically ineligible for the tourney? What about Bobby Joe Hill? He only played 8 games and you could argue that the '67 Miners were more of a Worsley-Lattin team anyway.

For the sake of competition, let's say both teams are at full strength. I still take the incredible balance of the '87 Miners over the defending champs. The '67 team may have been imposingly large against other teams from '67, but they might be undersized had they played in later eras. But what do you think? Team with the most votes goes to the UMB Elite Eight. Once again, seedings are based on team's overall winning percentage for that year...

(1) 1966 Miners
(8) 1967 or (9) 1987 (This week's matchup)

(5) 1992 or (12) 2004
(4) 1986 or (13) 1963

(3) 1984 or (14) 1988
(6) 1989 or (11) 1975

(7) 2010 or (10) 2005
(2) 1964 or (15) 1985

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