Clemson or New Mexico? How to pick 6 vs. 11 matchup in 2024 March Madness bracket

Two programs that have not won an NCAA Tournament game in the past six years are matched up in the first round of the 2024 March Madness bracket, and one will finally break its drought and advance to the second round. 

Clemson faces off against New Mexico in an East Region battle. The two teams are coming in off vastly different showings at their respective conference tournaments. 

The Tigers (21-11, 11-9 ACC) disappointed in the ACC Tournament this year. Clemson was the recipient of a stunning upset at the hands of Boston College in the second round, losing its only postseason game. 

Meanwhile, the Lobos (26-9, 10-8 MWC) were one of a handful of teams who came out of nowhere and earned an auto bid to the dance. New Mexico won four straight games to claim the Mountain West championship, knocking off one of last season’s Final Four participants, San Diego State, in the title game. 

Here’s what you need to know about the matchup between Clemson and New Mexico, including metrics, rankings, key players, season breakdowns, and more.

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Clemson vs. New Mexico odds

Clemson vs. New Mexico will be played Friday, March 22, the second day of the Round of 64. New Mexico opens as a betting favorite, per BetMGM, despite being the lower seed. 

Below are the details of the game, including betting odds, time, TV and venue:

  • Odds: New Mexico (-2.5)
  • Date: Friday, March 22
  • Time: 3:10 p.m.
  • TV: truTV
  • Arena: FedEx Forum, Memphis

Clemson (21-11, 11-9 ACC) 

The Clemson Tigers put together their best season since 2017-18, when Brad Brownell’s crew made a run to the Sweet 16. After a two-year absence from the big dance, the Tigers are back in the NCAA Tournament looking to recreate the magic from six years ago. 

Clemson finished ACC play at 11-9, good enough to finish sixth in the conference. However, Brownell’s squad fizzled in the ACC Tournament, as the Tigers were ousted in the second round, losing by more than 20 points to 11-seed Boston College in the team’s lone postseason game of 2024. 

The Tigers had an up-and-down 2023-24 regular season, finishing .500 against both Quad 1 and Quad 2 competition. While Clemson picked up impressive wins over UNC, Alabama, Pittsburgh, and TCU, the team also had less-than-stellar losses to the likes of Boston College, Notre Dame, and Georgia Tech. 

Momentum is not on Clemson’s side entering March Madness. Not only was it an early bounce from the ACC playoffs, but the No. 6 seed lost two out of its past three games of the regular season, as well, falling to Wake Forest and Notre Dame. 

With that said, Clemson will turn to star center PJ Hall to lead the way. The senior is averaging 18.8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Senior guards Joseph Girard III and Chase Hunter are also two key players to watch on Brownell’s team. 

Clemson has not won an NCAA Tournament game since 2018 when the program made a run to the Sweet 16. 

  • NET ranking: 35
  • KenPom ranking: 34
  • Quad 1 record: 5-5
  • Quad 2 record: 5-5
  • Quad 3 record: 6-1
  • Quad 4 record: 5-0
  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 27
  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 67

Key players

PJ Hall, C, Sr. (6-10, 238): 18.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.6 bpg

Joseph Girard III, G, Sr. (6-2, 189): 15.7 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 2.8 apg

Chase Hunter, G, Sr. (6-4, 200): 12.3 ppg, 2.9 apg, 2.4 rpg

Ian Schieffelin, F, Jr. (6-8, 238): 9.6 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 2.3 apg

Jack Clark, F, Sr. (6-10, 207): 4.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.3 apg

MORE: Buy tickets to 2024 March Madness games

New Mexico (26-9, 10-8 MWC) 

There is a Pitino dancing in March, but it isn’t the legend currently at St. John’s — it’s his son, Richard. The younger Pitino helped lead New Mexico to a sensational run in the Mountain West conference playoffs, winning the program’s ninth Mountain West championship. 

The Lobos went 10-8 in conference play and entered the Mountain West tournament as the sixth seed. Led by Jalen House, the son of former NBA guard Eddie House, New Mexico knocked off Air Force, Boise State, and Colorado State before defeating San Diego State in the championship game, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. 

During the regular season, New Mexico picked up Quad 1 wins over the likes of San Diego State, Nevada, and Utah State; however, it did suffer a couple of bad defeats, one at the hands of UNLV and one by Air Force. 

The Lobos are red hot entering the NCAA Tournament thanks to their run at the conference tournament. It’s the program’s first March Madness appearance since 2014, as Pitino has helped New Mexico back to dance in just his second season at the helm. 

In addition to House, the Lobos are led by sophomore guard Donovan Dent and senior guard Jamal Mashburn Jr. 

  • NET ranking: 22
  • KenPom ranking: 23
  • Quad 1 record: 5-6
  • Quad 2 record: 3-1
  • Quad 3 record: 7-1
  • Quad 4 record: 10-1
  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 41
  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 23

Key players

Jaelen House, G, Sr. (6-0, 170): 16.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.5 apg

Donovan Dent, G, Soph. (6-2, 170): 14.3 ppg, 5.6 apg, 2.5 rpg

Jamal Mashburn Jr., G, Sr. (6-2, 195): 14.4 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 1.5 apg

JT Toppin, F, Fr. (6-9, 210): 12.5 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.9 bpg

Nelly Junior Joseph, C, Sr. (6-10, 240): 8.8 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg

EXPERT PICKS: DeCourcy (UConn) | Bender (UConn) | Iyer (UConn) | Yanchulis (South Carolina women)

Clemson vs. Nevada prediction

The key to this matchup comes in the paint and at the rim. The Lobos are extremely stout defensively, especially near the basket. New Mexico shut down San Diego State big man Jaedon Lee twice this year, including in the Mountain West championship game, by defending well at the rim. 

That’s going to be needed again for the Lobos to pull off a win over the Tigers. Clemson runs its offense through PJ Hall, and the center has shown he can be a problem in the paint. He excels getting to the line as well, and the entire Clemson team performs well on free throws. The Tigers rank ninth at the Division I level this season from the line, shooting 79.0 percent as a collective unit. 

MORE: Full Clemson vs. New Mexico betting preview

Of course, there is also the rust vs. rest factor. By the time Friday’s game rolls around, Clemson will have not played in nine days. Either that extra time off will do the Tigers good, allowing the team ample time to prepare for the NCAA Tournament, or it may hurt them. On the other side, New Mexico is riding a four-game winning streak and has a ton of momentum heading into March Madness. 

If the Lobos can flex their defensive muscle and shut Hall down, there could be an upset in this 6 vs. 11 matchup. 

16 vs. 115 vs. 2 | 14 vs. 3 | 13 vs. 4 | 12 vs. 5

History of 6 vs. 11 matchups in NCAA Tournament

No. 11 seeds have historically given No. 5 seeds a much bigger problem than one may think. The lower seed has advanced roughly 39 percent of the time in this matchup. 

After three 11-seeds won in the first round of 2022, Pitt was the only 11-seed to make it out of the Round of 64 last year, knocking off Iowa State before losing to Xavier in the second round. 

Below is a breakdown of the 11-seeds who have earned wins over 6-seeds over the past 10 tournaments.

Year Result
2023 Pitt 58, Iowa 41
2022 Michigan 75, Colorado State 63
2022 Notre Dame 78, Alabama 64
2022 Iowa State 59, LSU 54
2021 UCLA 73, BYU 62
2021 Syracuse 78, San Diego State 62
2019 Ohio State 62, Iowa State 59
2018 Loyola Chicago 64, Miami (Fla.) 62
2018 Syracuse 57, TCU 52
2017 Rhode Island 84, Creighton 72
2017 USC 66, SMU 65
2017 Xavier 76, Maryland 65
2016 Northern Iowa 75, Texas 72
2016 Gonzaga 68, Seton Hall 52
2016 Wichita State 65, Arizona 55
2015 Dayton 66, Providence 53
2015 UCLA 60, SMU 59
2014 Tennessee 86, UMass 57
2014 Dayton 60, Ohio State 59


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