Marvin Menzies appears to be setting up his 2017-18 non-conference schedule with an eye towards the NCAA Tournament. The Rebels will host Arizona and Illinois, plus get either Utah or Ole Miss in the MGM Grand Main Event.
But there are still six games that have not been announced or reported on UNLV’s non-conference schedule. What would be the ideal games for UNLV?
UNLV hasn’t take on BYU since the Cougars left the Mountain West following the 2010-11 season. It is one of UNLV’s most competitive series with teams outside the current Mountain West. In 34 meetings the Runnin’ Rebels have claimed 18 victories; BYU has 16. While the Cougars haven’t made the NCAA Tournament in the past two seasons, it should still be a quality game on the schedule. BYU hasn’t finished outside the Ken Pom top 100 in 12 years.
New Mexico State
Marvin Menzies gets a shot to take down his former school. While this would be a game that would likely benefit New Mexico State more than UNLV, not every game on the schedule will be against a power conference team. A matchup with New Mexico State has more intrigue than one with Incarnate Word. The one downside to this game is that Menzies’ direct replacement – Paul Weir – left after one season to become the coach at New Mexico.
Somehow these two teams haven’t played each other since 1996, after playing 30 times over the span of 13 years. The Rebels lead the series 20-10.
Menzies graduated from UCLA in 1987, so surely the Bruins are on his radar for a future game. UCLA currently has the fourth-best recruiting class in the country. This would clearly be a marquee matchup for UNLV that would lead to exposure and a bump in RPI and Ken Pom. These two teams last faced off in 2015 at the Maui Invitational. With UNLV’s 0-5 mark in this matchup, UCLA is one four schools UNLV has not beaten with at least four matchups. The others are Kansas, Kentucky and Cincinnati.
The T-Mobile Arena hosted the rematch UNLV fans were waiting for. After more than two decades, UNLV and Duke finally met again after back-to-back meetings in the 90s that saw UNLV capture the 1990 national title and Duke end UNLV’s 1990-91 undefeated season in the Final Four. But the rematch was an overwhelming Duke victory; the Blue Devils trounced UNLV 94-45. It wasn’t the rematch everyone had hoped for.
Now, UNLV is more equipped to handle Duke. With a top-15 recruiting class, the Runnin’ Rebels should be able to challenge Duke and give fans a taste of the famous 90s battles.
Yes please. This is what UNLV needs. What better way to heal the wounds of Chris Beard dumping UNLV than with a victory over Texas Tech in the Thomas & Mack. Beard was named UNLV’s head coach last spring. One week later he bolted for Texas Tech. While this matchup is likely to never happen, maybe one day the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee can gift us with a first round draw of UNLV and Texas Tech.
Keeping high-profile part of the norm at UNLV is a must. With the Mountain West receding into a one-bid conference, the Rebels must schedule tough to impress the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee. Wins over San Diego State or Colorado State are not enough to earn an at-large bid, but knocking out some power conference teams can help UNLV make statement for themselves and the conference. And the only way to make those statements is to play those games.