Ultimate Miners Bracket: Play-in Game

1970 UTEP Miners v.s. 1990 UTEP Miners

If you didn't read my earlier post last week, I've creating a "Miners Ultimate Bracket" pitting UTEP's 17 NCAA Tourney teams against each other to imagine which UTEP men's basketball team would go the furthest. Each week I'll post a matchup and have a poll for readers to vote on who would win the imaginary game. Enjoy thinking about the play-in game:

1970 UTEP Miners
Record: 17-8 (10-4, 1st in WAC)

Nate Archibald, SR
Bob Doyle, JR
Mike Switzer, SR
Dick Gibbs, JR
Ples Vann, SR
Len Stewart, JR
Scott English, SO
Sam Samuels, SR
John Ruud, SR
Mike Quimby, JR
Tom Issac, SR
Tony Vasquez, SO

UTEP: 48.6 73 39.5 79.1
Opponent: 45.4 68.8 39.4 72.6
*No stats kept for assists or blocks

The 1970 Miners had 4 players averaging double digits (Archibald, Doyle, Switzer, and Gibbs), but clearly Tiny Archibald was the Miners' star player. Archibald averaged 21.4 points per game for the Miners and scored 36 in the Miners' tourney loss. The '70 Miners kept scores higher than most other Don Haskins teams, averaging almost 80 points per game while giving up almost 73. It was a very veteran team, with all of its main contributors being either juniors or seniors.

-Beat Clemson and then Missouri (by 20) in the Sun Carnival Classic
-Swept by NMSU, losing to the Aggies by 9 at home, and by 13 in Las Cruces. The Aggies were ranked #7 in the first meeting and #5 in the second game.
-All 4 WAC losses were on the road (by 5 to Utah, by 15 to BYU, by 8 to New Mexico, and by 14 to Arizona)
-The 1970 Miners played 3 games in the regular season against eventual NCAA Tournament teams losing all 3 (2 to the afore-mentioned Aggies, and an early season blowout at Western Kentucky)

Despite 36 points from Tiny Archibald, the Miners lost to Utah State 91-81 in the first round of the 1970 NCAA Tourney in Seattle. Utah State would beat Santa Clara in the next round to advance all the way to the West Regional Final where they would lose to the eventual champion UCLA Bruins. Also notable, the New Mexico State Aggies beat Rice, Kansas State, and Drake to advance to the Final Four in 1970 before losing to UCLA in one of the National semi-finals (Jacksonville and St. Bonaventure were the other 2 semi-finalists).

1990 UTEP Miners
Record: 21-11 (10-6 in WAC, Tied for 3rd)

Marlon Maxey, SO
Henry Hall, FR
Antonio Davis, SR
Greg Foster, SR
Prince Stewart, JR
Mark McCall, JR
Joe Griffin, JR
David Van Dyke, SO
Arlandis Rush, SR
Francis Ezenwa, JR
Merle Heimer, JR
Chris Perez, FR

UTEP 49.1 70.6 36.5 69.5 14.1 5.8 6.4
Opponents 44.0 63.4 32.0 64.0 14.5 1.8 7.5

The 1990 Miners look like a good mix of older juniors and seniors (Davis, Foster, Stewart) and younger guys (Maxey, Hall). The scoring attack is about as balanced as it gets. The Miners had 4 players average in double digits, but unlike the 1970 Miners, no one averaged more than 13 ppg. Two other players (Stewart and McCall) averaged at least 7 points per game. The biggest margin in the statistics is UTEP's superior advantage in blocks per game (5.8 to 1.8 per game). No doubt this was one of the biggest Miner teams in recent memory.

-Split season series with NMSU, winning by 3 in El Paso and losing by 13 in Las Cruces.
-Lost to #11 Indiana at home by only 3 points
-Lost to South Carolina by 3 in first round of Sun Carnival Classic
-Hosted WAC Tournament and earned the automatic bid after defeating New Mexico, Air Force, and then Hawaii in the Championship
-The 1990 Miners played 8 games in the regular season against eventual NCAA Tourney teams going 2-6. They beat NMSU and BYU at home, and lost to Arkansas-Little Rock, BYU and NMSU on the road, Indiana at home, and got swept by Colorado State.

Antonio Davis recorded a double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds) and the Miners had two others in double digits scoring (Maxey with 17 and Hall with 16), but the Miners lost to the Minnesota Golden Gophers by 3 in overtime. Minnesota would then beat Northern Iowa in the second round and upset Syracuse in the Sweet 16 before finally losing to Georgia Tech in the Elite 8. The Final Four included former Miner Nolan Richardson and his Arkansas Razorbacks as well as eventual champion UNLV, Duke, and Georgia Tech.

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