ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The defending Mountain West Tournament champion University of New Mexico baseball team takes on arguably one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country in 2017 with five NCAA postseason opponents – including two College World Series participants – and a combined winning percentage of almost .600 between the Lobos’ 10 non-conference foes.
UNM, which is coming off a 39-23 campaign – the most wins for the program since 1985 – and a fifth NCAA postseason appearance in seven seasons, takes on CWS teams Texas Tech (on the road Feb. 28, April 11; at home April 25-26) and Oklahoma State (on the road March 14-15) along with fellow 2016 NCAA postseason teams Cal State Fullerton (on the road March 17-19), Dallas Baptist (on the road Feb. 24-26) and Binghamton (at home Feb. 17-19).
Four of those teams finished in the top 30 of the NCBWA’s final rankings in No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 5 Texas Tech, No. 24 Dallas Baptist and No. 29 Cal State Fullerton.
“If this isn’t one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country, I’m not sure what is,” UNM coach Ray Birmingham said. “The only team we don’t have on our schedule for next year is the New York Yankees.”
Of the Lobos’ 26 non-conference games, 21 are against teams that finished above .500 last season with 15 against NCAA postseason qualifiers. All 10 teams on the Lobos’ non-conference schedule finished with 25 or more victories.
Along with taking on five NCAA postseason teams, the Lobos face a Missouri State team (at home April 13-15) that finished 38-21 in 2016 and lost in the 12thinning of the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament championship game to Dallas Baptist.
UNM takes on in-state foe New Mexico State (34-23 last season) three times in three locations – March 7 in El Paso at Southwest University Park, March 28 (6:30 p.m.) at New Mexico State and May 2 (6:30 p.m.) at Santa Ana Star Field in Albuquerque.
The Lobos added a third Big 12 opponent on its schedule as well as the Lobos will travel to take on Kansas State April 18-19.
UNM opens the season at home against Binghamton Feb. 17 and will start Mountain West play March 3 on the road against Air Force.