Paul Weir is keeping it local.
The new head coach for The University of New Mexico men’s basketball program will have both his home and road openers within the confines of the state. The program released its nonconference schedule Wednesday, and Weir’s first game as Lobos coach will come Nov. 11 against Northern New Mexico College in The Pit.
Six days later, Weir will travel to all-too-familiar territory when the Lobos head to Las Cruces for the first of two games against intra-state rival New Mexico State. Weir was an assistant coach at NMSU for nine years before becoming head coach for the 2016-17 season, leading the Aggies to a 28-6 record and an NCAA Tournament berth.
Weir left the program in April to take the UNM job.
The Lobos signature nonconference game is a Dec. 16 matchup against an Arizona club that should be a Top 10 program. UNM also has road games at UTEP and Colorado to start December, plus two games in the Emerald Coast Classic in Destin, Fla., on Nov. 24 (against TCU) and 25 (versus either St. Bonaventure or Maryland).
The first two games of that tournament are scheduled for The Pit, with a Nov. 14 contest against Nebraska-Omaha and a game against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 21.
Weir lauded the strength of the nonconference schedule for focusing on playing teams among the “Power 5” conference.
“To have a schedule where we can play up to four Power-5 programs says a lot about the commitment towards competitive scheduling,” Weir said in a statement. “Continuing the series with UTEP going forward is another key component to bringing as many regional rivalries back as we can. Finally, our opening weekend series of games is an exciting opportunity for schools in the state to come together and propel ourselves forward in the future.”
The Mountain West-Missouri Valley Challenge features the Lobos at home against Evansville on Nov. 29. NMSU comes to Albuquerque on Dec. 8, and the Lobos finish the nonconference season at home against Rice on Dec. 19 and Prairie View A&M on Dec. 22 before starting Mountain West Conference play at home against Air Force on Dec. 27.
Overall, UNM has 17 home games in its 32 game schedule.