Which one of these classic Miner teams will move on to play the defending champs in the Miner Final Four? In one corner we have the magical 1992 Sweet Sixteen team. In the other we have the team that started it all, the 1963 team led by arguably the best Miner player of all time. It's another gem of a matchup in the Ultimate Miners Bracket.
|Overall Record||Conf. Record||Reg. Season Record vs eventual NCAA Tourney teams|
|1992 UTEP Miners||27-7||12-4 (Tied 1st in WAC)||
3-3 (3 wins = NMSU, Texas, BYU. 3 losses = BYU twice, NMSU
|1963 Texas Western Miners||19-7||n/a||
3-3 (3 wins = Utah twice, Texas, 3 losses = Arizona
State twice, Colorado State
ROSTERS & INDIVIDUAL STATS
|1992 UTEP Miners||YR||FG%||AST||BLK||STL||RPG||PPG|
|David Van Dyke||SR||54.9||30||116||52||6.2||13.9|
|1963 TWC Miners||YR||FG%||AST||BLK||STL||RPG||PPG|
The statistics show a very balanced 1992 team in both the front and back courts. Rivera and Stewart provided the 92 Miners with a two-headed monster in the backcourt. They possessed two different styles but ended up with almost identical statistics on the year in terms of assists, points, steals, and rebounds. Prince was a slightly better rebounder but Rivera was the better shooter. David Van Dyke led the Miners inside playing amazing defense (blocks & steals) while a young and blossoming Ralph Davis joined the do-it-all forwards Marlon Maxey and Johnnie "Smooth" Melvin.
1963 was the year before Jim Barnes would explode and average almost 30 points and 20 rebounds per game. But even as a junior, Barnes easily led the team in both categories (18 and 16). Unlike the more successful 1964 team however, Barnes was backed up by 4 very capable senior Miners in Lesley, Richardson, Brown, and Vaughn to complete a tough veteran squad. Nolan Richardson was a star in his own right, averaging more than 20 points per game his sophomore season, but needed to score much less on a team with Barnes. He became a slightly more efficient scorer but his overall numbers dipped. Depth was a problem for The Bear's first ever Tourney team though, as outside those top five players, the Miners didn't really get much production from the rest of the team.
Both these teams show very different strengths as a team. 1992 dominated opponents in the blocks and steals categories making them one of the stingiest defensive teams ever. Like the other Miner teams of the 1960's, the 1963 Miners dominated opponents in the rebounding category. Something tells me the score would be pretty low if these two teams met on the court with 1963 limiting their opponent to 1 shot per possession and 1992 causing all kinds of havoc for a team whose scoring attack centered on only a few players.
NOTABLE WINS & LOSSES
- Split season series with New Mexico State
- Beat Northern Iowa and Texas to win the Sun Carnival Classic
- Beat Washington on the road by 5
- Beat Colorado State and New Mexico before losing to BYU in the WAC Championship game thanks to an incredible buzzer beater showcased in a previous post by asalom this week
- Swept New Mexico State
- Lost to #6 Wisconsin on the road by 14
- Snapped Utah's 38 game home winning streak
- Beat Tennessee and Texas to win the Sun Carnival Classic
- Lost to #5 Arizona State twice in the season, both times by only 3 points
NCAA TOURNAMENT RESULTS
The Miners were given a 9 seed in the 1992 NCAA Tournament and squeaked past the Evansville Purple Aces in the first round. That set up one of the all time greatest Miner upsets against the top seeded Kansas Jayhawks. After knocking off the regional favorites, the door opened up for possibly the second Final Four team in UTEP history. Bob Huggins's Cincinnati Bearcats would end that dream though. The Bearcats edged the Miners by 2 to advance to the Elite Eight where they would crush Memphis State by 31.
Only 25 teams made the NCAA Tournament in 1963, so one could make the argument that the 1992 Miners would not have made the Tourney in 1963 since a 9-seed equates to a 33-36 national ranking. Of course, college basketball was not nearly as big on the overall national sports landscape in the 60's. The 63 Miners drew the Texas Longhorns in the first round of the Tourney, a team they had already beaten in the regular season. Unfortunately, the Miners lost their rematch to the Horns by 18 points.
The combination of Barnes, Lesley, Brown and Richardson might have been enough to upset the 1986 Miners in the first round, but I'm not sure how they would do against a much better 1992 team. David Van Dyke was a much better defender than 1986's Dave Feitl, but I doubt anyone from any era could completely shut down the scoring/rebounding monster that was Jim Barnes. I think the key to this game is the superior guard play of the 1992 team in Rivera and Stewart. Both those guys spread the ball around getting everyone involved and keeping the tempo to their favor. I think 1992 wins this matchup, but then again what do I know? You guys vote and post comments below if you so please.
The Ultimate Miners Bracket looks like this:
(1) 1966 Texas Western Miners
(5) 1992 UTEP Miners vs (13) 1963 TWC Miners (This week's matchup)
(3) 1984 UTEP Miners vs (6) 1989 UTEP Miners
(2) 1964 TWC Miners vs (7) 2010 UTEP Miners