Who? The Miners of the University of Texas at El Paso. UTEP for short. Texas Western if you just time warped in from Glory Road.
What? UTEP was founded as a mining school, and the name reflects that tradition. Paydirt Pete gave up smoking about twelve years ago.
Where? El Paso, Texas, on the Sunset Limited rail line.
When? March 10th, at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tennessee.
Why? They won the Conference USA tournament.
How? Third seed Tulane led early, but couldn't close the deal, and UTEP came back late to claim a 69-65 win behind 20 points and 11 rebounds from Gloria Brown.
Surprise? They won the regular season title, but had been expected to finish fourth.
RPI (as of 3/11): 48
SOS (as of 3/11): 209
Record: 29-3 (15-1 Conference USA)
Good wins: Memphis; Idaho State also looks decent right now.
Bad losses: Rice.
Who's running this show? Keitha Adams, since 2001. She took the junior college route.
Extra, Extra! The El Paso Times
Senior forward Gloria Brown might have a case for national sixth man of the year (if such an award exists)- though she hasn't started a single game, she leads the Miners in scoring with 11.6 points per game on 53% from the field, rebounding with 8.7, blocks with almost three per game, and steals. Eleven players play double-digit minutes for the Miners; if I had to guess, I'd say they like a fast pace.