Ahead of Air Force rematch, Lobos assigned makeup game for next week

Geoff Grammer, Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
·3 min read

Feb. 24—The Lobos won a game at Air Force on Monday night.

On Tuesday the Mountain West Conference announced it wants to see more Lobo basketball this season.

OK, so the two may not be related, but as UNM (6-13, 2-13) prepared for its Wednesday afternoon series finale with Air Force — the last regular-season game on its schedule before the March 10 Mountain West tournament — it learned it will now return to Colorado next week for a March 3 game in Fort Collins to make up one of the two postponed games that were supposed to be played Feb. 9 and 11.

The time for the CSU game has not been announced, though it's possible it will be an afternoon game. CSU also must make up one of two lost games at Nevada and the Rams will have to be in Reno for a game two days after hosting the Lobos.

In all, the Mountain West announced Tuesday that eight games postponed in the past two months due to either COVID-19 pauses or contact tracing concerns will now be made up between March 2 and 6. If Air Force completes Wednesday's Lobos game and its two scheduled games later this week at CSU, it will be the only MWC team to have played all 20 scheduled games.

When the league released its 20-game format, it intentionally left next week clear of games to have a window for makeup games before the conference tournament. Now, there are questions about the risk/reward of exposing teams to COVID cases next week at all just ahead of a conference tournament and the NCAA Tournament the following week. COVID-19 cases then will lead to teams being eliminated, not tournaments being put on pause for teams that aren't ready.

The league noted, too, that part of the reason for the makeups had to due with "television contractual obligations," though the CSU-UNM game will not be televised, rather streamed on TheMW.com.

FORFEIT OR NOT? The MWC's announcement on Tuesday also indicated the Lobos' Feb. 3 and 5 games against San Diego State that were supposed to be played in Lubbock, Texas, will not be played. That was the series UNM said it did not have enough available players to feel comfortable playing the series, but without a positive COVID-19 case on the team's roster, it was unclear if the team could just call off the series without taking forfeits.

Tuesday, the league took a swing at trying to explain its ruling, writing that the games will be declared forfeits — the word used in the league release — but only for "conference tournament seeding only."

It then noted, "according to the NCAA, this does not change an institution's official overall won-lost record."

Adding to the confusion, the league changed the conference standings listed on its website (TheMW.com) to reflect SDSU had two more wins (it showed 13-3 in the standings) and UNM had two more losses (at 2-15).

That stayed on the league website for at least two hours before it was changed back, and a league spokesperson again clarified the games will not count as wins or losses in any standings or records books, but only be deemed "forfeits" if needed to decide next month's conference tournament seedings or the regular-season conference champion.

AIR FORCE: Meanwhile, the Lobos play Air Force in Game 2 of their series at 4 p.m. Wednesday after beating the Falcons on Monday night to snap a five-game skid. It will be the fourth game for the Lobos in an eight-day stretch after playing Wyoming twice in Clune Arena last week.

"It's a quick turnaround. It's a 4 p.m. game. We know we need our energy. We know we need our legs, so we need a lot of rest," Lobos coach Paul Weir said after Monday's win.