Category: College basketball


For the University of Nevada, the time has come. Good bye WAC, hello MWC. Nevada accepted an invitation August 19, 2010. Now, this school year, the Wolf Pack will join Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, New Mexico, San Diego State, UNLV and Wyoming. Hawai’i is also a football-only member of the Mountain West, while San Jose State and Utah State will be joining next year.

Is this a good move? Undeniably, yes. The WAC was going nowhere and fast. The WAC is nothing without Boise State, Nevada, Fresno state and Hawaii. Once it lost San Jose State and Utah State, well, that put the nail in the coffin. Athletics Director Cary Groth will see the volleyball team and Chris Ault, Cody Fajardo and the football team take the field first. First, the positives. Nevada will get to play Nevada Southern and have it mean something more than bragging rights.

Look at all the great rivalries. Why are they great? Because there’s something on the line. Now, there will be conference implications in addition to just bragging rights. The better both programs get, the more is at stake, the better the rivalry becomes. For one year, at least, Nevada will get a chance to play both UNLV and Boise State in football, a glimpse of what might have been for the Wolf Pack football program.

The negatives? Will the competition really be much better than the WAC? Sure, in basketball there’s no question. SDSU, for this season at least, will provide a stiff test. New Mexico is generally strong, so is UNLV. Once Utah State joins the conference next year, the basketball portion will be fine. It’s football that will be lacking, a shame because that’s pretty much the whole reason Nevada moved. Who is going to be the powerhouse after Boise leaves? Nevada? Fresno? Hawaii? Air Force? Exactly.

All the same, this might not be the home run we all dreamt about when it looked as if Utah, BYU, TCU, Boise State and Nevada could all be in the same conference. But, it’s still better than the alternative. Hello MWC. Time to show the conference that the Strength of the Pack is the Wolf and the Strength of the Wolf is the Pack.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

 

Here’s a link to a Yahoo Sports article. In it, Ryan Greene name Nevada the No. 13 best basketball team in the west! Greene writes of Nevada: The Wolf Pack moves to the Mountain West, and comes in strong with one of the league’s best backcourt combos in Deonte Burton and Malik Story.

Sounds good! Other MWC teams that made the list are Nevada Southern, San Diego State, New Mexico and Colorado State.

Obviously it shows that head coach David Carter and company are going to have a challenging season. No WAC teams made the list, just for reference. The bigger question is can Nevada replace Dario Hunt’s defensive and rebounding contributions and who can step up to fill Olek Czyz’s role?

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.luklas@gmail.com.

Yes, March Madness has begun. And with the NCAA Tournament comes the brackets. And with the brackets comes the feeling of hope, frustration and utter stupidity as my brackets fall by the wayside. So I’ve given up trying to pretend I know enough about all the teams to make “educated” picks. So, here’s my final four from my first bracket, the, what I hope, is the more realistic bracket then my second one.

Wisconsin, Michigan State, North Carolina and Baylor.

Yes, I do have another bracket but I’ll wait to reveal that one until late tonight. That was more of a fun one where I used different methods people told me they used to pick my bracket. Stay tuned.

Luaks Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com

Both the Wolf Pack and the Golden Eagles were hoping to get into the NCAA Tournament. However, both fell short and now will face each other in the first round of the NIT. Who will come out on top?

Oral Roberts (27-6) also won its regular season championship before losing in the second round of its conference tournament. The Golden Eagles, however, have a 23-game home winning streak. These are two similar teams in that, much like Nevada, nearly all of Oral Roberts’ scoring comes from its starting five. Dominique Morrison leads the team in scoring with 20 points per game. Morrison is an offensive juggernaut who is shooting nearly 50 percent from the field and 43 percent from beyond the arc. However, in total, four of the Golden Eagles’ five starters (Morrison, Warren Niles, Michael Craion and Steven Roundtree) average in double digit points. The starting five accounts for 84 percent of the team’s total scoring.

For Nevada to win, its starters must be on their game. No room for a slow start and Deonte Burton, Malik Story, Olek Czyz, Dario Hunt and Jerry Evans Jr. need to have solid games. Prior to the WAC Tournament, the Wolf Pack had played well on the road. Nevada’s starters account for 85 percent of the team’s total scoring. This will be a matter of which team’s starters can rise to the occasion and put away the disappointment of missing the NCAA Tournament.

Prediction: I hate to say this. But, I just get a bad feeling that the Wolf Pack isn’t going to be at its best. Oral Roberts wins 70-64.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

The Wolf Pack failed to secure a bid to the NCAA Tournament. Now it will hit the road as the fifth-seeded Wolf Pack will face fourth-seeded Oral Roberts in the first round of the NIT.

Oral Roberts won 20 of 21 games before being upset in its conference tournament. Nevada had a 16-game winning streak before losing to Louisiana Tech in the semifinals of the WAC Tournament.  The game will be televised by ESPN3 at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday. Game preview will be up Wednesday. And, if I held a live chat during the game would you guys take part? Let me know in the comments.

What do you think of the Wolf Pack’s matchup?

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

 

Nevada lost to Louisiana Tech in the semifinals, setting up a New Mexico State-La. Tech WAC Championship game. For the record, I think the Aggies will cruise to the win.

That leaves the Wolf Pack on the outside looking in for the NCAA Tournament. But, does it deserve to get in?

The fan in me says yes. Nevada still went 26-6. It still won the regular season WAC title. It had a 16-game winning streak. It had a top 6o RPI and was 4-3 against the top-100 RPI teams it faced. Its strength of schedule (164th) was still higher than Drexel’s, and the Wolf Pack did beat Washington, another bubble team and went 4-8 against top-1oo RPI teams.

The problem? Who exactly did the Wolf Pack beat this year? Montana, who won its conference tournament to get a spot in the NCAA Tournament? Yet, it also lost to UNLV, lost to BYU, lost to Iona and had a loss to Idaho. The point? Every chance Nevada had to get a great victory it faltered. Not to mention its wilting in the WAC Tournament again doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in the selection committee. Why choose a team that already peaked and is now apparently not playing nearly as well?

The fan in me wants them to make it. The sports writer in me knows that it doesn’t deserve to.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

Earlier, I wrote that the Nevada men’s basketball team has the potential to go down as one of the better teams in program history. Last night against San Jose State, they didn’t show it. A pitiful shooting effort in the first half led to the Spartans taking a 14-13 lead into the half. Yes, the Wolf Pack managed just 13 points, tied for the lowest record in WAC Tournament history. My rec league basketball team when I was in grade school scored more than that. Though it recovered to win 54-44, some questions now linger. Was that the Wolf Pack just overlooking the Spartans and are now good since they “woke up” in the second half? Is there a bigger problem?

Deonte Burton, this is your chance to shine once again. Prove you deserve that WAC Player of the Year Award. Coach David Carter, this is your time to step up as well. This team must play better at the beginning of the game. It can’t get away with trying to coast against Louisiana Tech or potentially New Mexico State. Fair or not, the only way the Wolf Pack is going dancing is if it wins this tournament. Especially with Washington losing to Oregon State in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, Nevada’s resume just doesn’t stack up. It’s time to rise to the occasion boys. Make us proud.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

What a day for the men’s bracket. Exciting, close games. Potential big upsets. And a showdown in the semifinals that people won’t want to miss.

No. 6 Hawaii upset No. 3 Idaho 72-70 in the first game. Give the Warriors credit. They played hard and kept the pressure on. I thought the Vandals would pull out the close win, but Hawaii is more than deserving to move on. They won wihtout leading scorer Zane Johnson and were blown up by Idaho earlier this season. You have to wonder, though. Vandals coach Don Verlin has yet to lead them to a WAC Tournament win.

New Mexico State cruised against Fresno State. No surprise there.

Then there was the Wolf Pack. Coach of the Year David Carter. Player of the Year Deonte Burton. Along with Malik Story and Olek Czyz and Dario Hunt in the middle, it wouldn’t have trouble with the eighth-seeded Spartans right? Wrong. San Jose State led 14-13 at the half before Nevada gained control late in the second half to win 54-44. It was ugly. But, Burton scored 15 of his 16 points in the second half and the Wolf Pack finally looked like a team worthy of a top seed.

Louisiana Tech beats Utah State 72-70. Another great game that went right down the the wire. My only regret? part of me kind of wanted to see Nevada take down the Aggies in the semifinals.

Semifinals predictions 

No. 6 Hawaii vs. No. 2 New Mexico State

Hawaii’s upset of Idaho was great. But, the run will stop here. The Aggies are on a mission to win the WAC Tournament. And, out of all the teams in the first round, they  look like the only team ready to do the job.

Aggies win 72-61.

No. 5 Louisiana Tech vs. No. 1 Nevada

Let’s hope Nevada’s second half resurgence woke the team up for good. Jerry Evans Jr. played well, scoring 10 points on four-of-five shooting. Look, either the Wolf Pack’s game against San Jose State woke them up and they’re going to play well against Louisiana Tech, or Nevada will start slowly again. And against the Bulldogs, that will mean a loss. I’m going to side with the former.

Nevada wins 77-70.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

It’s time. The road to the NCAA Tournament begins today for the Wolf Pack. Nevada likely needs to win the WAC Tournament to get a spot in the big dance. Up first is No. 8 San Jose State. The Wolf Pack crushed the Spartans in the first meeting, but had trouble shaking them off in the second. Is San Jose State prime for a major upset?

The last time these teams met is probably a good indicator of what the Spartans will have to do to have a chance. That game, Olek Czyz and Malik Story were on fire, but Deonte Burton went just two-of-seven from the field. San Jose State had three players score in double figures, James Kinney, Keith Shamburger and Wil Carter. They need all three to do that again. Kinney had 11 points in the first five minutes of the second half alone, keeping the game close. But, the big advantage came on the boards where Nevada had 15 offensive rebounds. Dario Hunt needs to dominate in the middle.

The Wolf Pack hasn’t looked dominant as of late. Since a 13-point win against Fresno State on Jan. 21, Nevada’s conference wins have come by eight, two, one, one, six, three, four and 10 points. In short, the WAC is wide open.

If San Jose State wants to win this game it needs to hold Nevada to fewer than 70 points. The Spartans simply do not have enough scoring options to get into a shootout and win. It also needs to keep the rebounding battle close, especially on the offensive boards.

For Nevada, it will be key to get a big lead early. The longer the Spartans stick around, the more pressure the Wolf Pack will feel. With Nevada being the top seed, the pressure’s all on them. If this game stays close, the Wolf Pack could get tense and then San Jose State has its chance for the upset.

Prediction: Nevada should take care of business today. The Wolf Pack wins 77-67.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.

The WAC Tournament begins tomorrow. And it should be a fun one. The Wolf Pack will be looking to lock in its spot to the NCAA Tournament while the others will be looking to spoil the party and go dancing themselves.

On paper, Nevada should be the odds on favorite. Coach of the year David Carter and player of the year Deonte Burton lead a talented starting five. But, it’ll be Malik Story and Olek Czyz who will be the difference makers. If they’re on, the Wolf Pack will cruise. If they’re off…well they’ll be in some trouble.

Don’t overlook New Mexico State. The Aggies showed it can hang with the Pack and a showdown could be set for the championship game. Also don’t overlook Idaho. The Vandals could play Nevada in the title game. The Vandals were the only team to beat Nevada during conference play.

Nevada hasn’t looked too impressive in the last few WAC tourneys. And, as San Jose State showed last season, come tournament time, anything can happen. Who do you think will win?

Prediction: Nevada takes down New Mexico State in the championship game.

Lukas Eggen can be reached at eggen.lukas@gmail.com.