UNLV Rebels just can’t handle prosperity

Feb 16, 2010 5:08 PM
College Notebook by Micah Roberts |

Losses come after national recognition

Three new teams found their way into the Top-25 this week, while three fell out, including our beloved UNLV Rebels (19-6) who lost two conference games last week to New Mexico (23-3) and San Diego State (18-7). This is the second time this season the Rebels tanked once the voting coaches started to give the Rebels some recognition with enough votes to make them ranked.

It seems like UNLV plays less hungry in the two weeks they’ve ranked, as though they’ve accomplished something by making the Top-25. They just don’t get after it. So here’s hoping UNLV doesn’t get back into the rankings until the end of the season so they stay hungry throughout the tournament, because it does seem to drive them for some reason.

With the two losses, the question now arises whether or not they should be a tournament team.
Following the San Diego State loss, it now puts both those teams closer to each other in the RPI’s, but there doesn’t seem to be any way that the committee will take four Mountain West teams. BYU and New Mexico are a lock to get in, and UNLV appeared to be as well, but then last week’s meltdown made things more interesting.

Right now there are some good teams out there on the bubble from some very good conferences. Tough luck Marquette (16-8) who is tied for sixth in the Big East, the toughest in the nation, is considered a bubble team that will barely make the tournament. No loss is a good loss, but Marquette has had some heart breakers this season. If it came down to it, I would definitely feel Marquette more deserving than both San Diego State and UNLV just because of their strength of schedule.

Other teams on the bubble right now are Charlotte (18-6), Saint Mary’s, Oklahoma State (17-7), Florida (17-8), Cincinnati (15-9), Mississippi State (18-7), Mississippi (17-7), Virginia (14-8), Wichita State (21-6) and Notre Dame (17-9).

So far many of the prognosticators have the power conferences of the ACC, Big 12 and Big East all getting seven teams into the tournament with the Atlantic-10 getting six and the Big Ten taking five. The Big East seems a little low to me, but I’ve been watching those teams all year whack each other around. I think I’d prefer to see Saint Mary’s take a shot at them instead of seeing a possible match-up we’ve already seen before twice in conference play.

Teams that will be saying hello to the NIT, are North Carolina and Connecticut – two of the most storied basketball programs in the nation.

Games of the Week

Wednesday, Feb. 17
3:30 pm (PT) - TV: Big 10 Network

No. 4 Purdue (21-3) at No. 12 Ohio State (20-6): Purdue goes to Columbus with a seven game winning streak with revenge on their mind. Purdue’s lone home loss this season came from the Buckeyes. Ohio State’s all-everything Evan Turner scored a season 32 points and Purdue had no answer. After that game, Purdue unraveled at Northwestern sending them to a season high three-game losing streak, their only three losses of the season. Both teams are playing some of the best basketball in the nation and both should go far in the tournament representing a conference that many have discounted. Look for a close game with a slight lean to Purdue.

Thursday, Feb. 18
4:00 pm (PT) - TV: ESPN

No. 5 Syracuse (24-2) at No. 10 Georgetown (18-6): Both teams are coming off upset losses, but throw everything out when these two teams play no matter what their record is. This will be the second time this season the two have squared off with both being top-10 teams, a first in 20 years. When they met last month at Syracuse, the Orangemen held serve with a 73-56 pounding. Each team has defended their home court well in the rivalry, but Syracuse has yet to lose on the road this season. Give the home team the edge in this one.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Micah Roberts