UNLV was once known as the greatest show in college basketball, back in their hey day. Now under coach Lon Kruger, UNLV circa 2010, is more workman like and tournament ready. UNLV is a back to basics team without a big man in the middle but plenty of depth, that can lead them into the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.
UNLV plays against a tough Mountain West Conference contingent.
The Mountain West Conference is the toughest conference no one has heard about. Most of UNLV’s games are being shown on the Mountain West Channel, which is not carried in many homes across the United States. The other channel UNLV games are shown on is Versus, which is in a battle with Direct TV. Anyone having Direct TV cannot watch Versus, further limiting UNLV’s and the Mountain West Conference basketball teams exposure.
UNLV was once a featured game at 9 pm Monday nights on ESPN, now most of the country cannot see the UNLV Runnin Rebels due to their ill advised television contract. This would explain why UNLV will probably receive a lower seed in the NCAA Tournament. UNLV is projected for a #5 or #6 seed in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
UNLV’s possible opponents in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
UNLV’s possible opponents in the first round of the tournament are Richmond, Florida, California and Charlotte. The toughest match up of the four may be an angry Florida team with nothing to lose. If UNLV is fortunate enough to capture a #5 seed, their possible opponents could range from Clemson and Old Dominion to Sienna and Illinois. Of those four, Illinois is an interesting match-up since Kruger coached Illinois to a the second round of the NCAA Tournament three out of four years.
Key to UNLV advancing to the Sweet 16.
Tre’Von Willis is the obvious key for UNLV to advance to the Sweet 16. When Willis is having a bad night it’s bad news for UNLV. There have been a few exceptions but when Willis is off, the entire team is off. Willis has that sixth sense, to take over a game when his teammates struggle. Willis knows when to jump in to help on defense and when to take over on offense.
Another key player to UNLV’s success is standout forward Chace Stanback. When Stanback became more involved in games scoring wise, UNLV went to the next level. Stanback can be huge on the boards also, as he pulled down 14 rebounds in the recent game against BYU.
One key player will be coming back just in time for the tournament.
Derrick Jasper is a major transfer from the Kentucky Wildcats to UNLV and sat out last year as a red shirt. Jasper is playing as a Junior this season and was becoming more involved until an injury took him out of commission. Jasper suffered a scary knee injury in the first half of a game against Air Force and will be missing from the line- up for five weeks. Jasper will come back in time for the Mountain West Conference.
UNLV’s weaknesses are scoring in the paint and fighting for rebounds.
Scoring in the paint is a key to winning championships and making the Final Four. UNLV has been inconsistent in points scored in the paint and they have been out performed on the boards several times in 2009-2010. UNLV’s game against BYU was an epiphany of sorts, they outscored their opponents (BYU) in the paint and out rebounded them. If UNLV can perform as well as they did against BYU in Las Vegas in the NCAA Tournament, they can win two games and make the Sweet 16.
UNLV can be a 3 point threat but they can’t rely on it to get to Sweet 16.
UNLV has several 3 point threats, from Kendall Wallace, who has been inconsistent this season, to all around scorer, Tre’Von Willis. When UNLV gets hot from the 3 point line, there is no stopping them. UNLV has fallen victim this year to a team that was hot from the 3 point line also. Kansas State came in and played UNLV at the Orleans Arena, early in the season and went off from 3 point land.
The loss to Kansas State was a tough home loss for UNLV, as they were forced to play in a the smaller Orleans Arena that only seats 9,500 opposed to the 18,500 that the Thomas & Mack Center seats for UNLV games. When The Thomas & Mack is a sellout it is deafening and effects the opposing team.
UNLV will host Mountain West Conference Tournament–amid protests by MWC teams.
UNLV will host the Mountain West Conference Tournament in March and the rest of the league protests every year. For two years the tournament was held in Denver, with terrible turnouts and has been held in Las Vegas since. UNLV has failed to capitalize on the huge home court advantage in recent years and they can’t afford to give up a good seed in the NCAA Tournament with a poor performance in the Mountain West Tournament.
UNLV can get a #5 seed in the tournament if.
If UNLV wants to earn a #5 seed in the NCAA Basketball Tournament, they will have to win the Mountain West Conference tournament outright. With privilege comes responsibility and UNLV will have to represent on their home court or risk a #7 or #8 seed in the Big Dance.