UNLV Basketball Season Preview: Non-Conference Schedule
Get to know your foe. A quick breakdown of each of UNLV’s Non-Conference opponents.
UNLV Basketball Season Preview: Non-Conference Schedule
With November finally here, and UNLV’s first exhibition game, against Alaska Fairbanks, set to tip off at 7 pm on Friday night, we will be breaking down the non-conference slate for this season. Roster breakdown of all the returners and new players here.
Alaska Fairbanks (exhibition) 11/3 – This will be coach Menzies and the UNLV fans first look at the new team in real game action, and the Division II Nanooks shouldn’t present much of a challenge. UNLV will be much more talented and much bigger.
Florida A&M 11/11 – The Division I-AA Rattlers, who went 7-21 last season, are a veteran team with hopes of competing for a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Championship this year. They are led by two talented forwards in Desmond Williams and Marcus Barham, but UNLV is far more talented.
Prairie View A&M 11/15 – The Panthers finished 13 – 20 last year, but that included a win over Fresno State. However, they will be undersized, which should allow Brandon McCoy, Shakur Juiston and the rest of the Rebel’s forwards to dominate inside the paint.
Eastern Washington 11/17 – Out of the Big Sky, the Eagles are led by 6’6” senior forward Bogdan Bliznyuk and return three starters from a team that went 22-12 last season. Bliznyuk is a potential all conference player of the year for the Eagles, so this will be a tough test for the talented, but new Runnin’ Rebels. They will be the more talented team, but earning a victory will depend on how well they have gelled during their first three games.
Rice 11/20 – As was the case with EWU, Rice’s advantage will be on the experience front. They return 7 players from a team that won 23 games last season and advanced to the quarter finals of the CBI. But, from a player by player comparison, UNLV will be the bigger and more talented team on the court. Rice doesn’t feature a player over 6’9”, so look for McCoy and Juiston to see a lot work in the paint.
Ole Miss or Utah 11/22 – The Prairie View, EWU and Rice games are all part of the MGM Resorts Main Event tournament, but UNLV’s final opponent will depend solely on the outcome of their match up versus Rice and the outcome of the Ole Miss versus Utah game. Regardless of who they play, UNLV will likely be a sizeable underdog, as both schools bring a major jump in talent from what UNLV will have seen in their first five games. If UNLV ends up playing Utah, a familiar face will be senior David Collette, who started his career at Utah State before suddenly transferring just days before the start of the 2015-2016 season.
Southern Utah 11/25 – While the Thunderbirds almost shocked the Rebels last season, that was a completely different team, and this years Rebels are a much more talented bunch. No doubt former UNLV assistant Todd Simon will have his guys ready to play, but they won’t have the talent to hang with UNLV this time around.
Northern Iowa 11/29 – UNI is led by senior forwards Bennett Koch and Klint Carlson, with both earning preseason all-conference recognition. Outside of those two, UNI has some question marks, and overall, UNLV is the more talented team. However, this is their first true road game, and the outcome will be determined by how well the Rebels handle the pressures of playing outside of Las Vegas and how the young front court handles both Koch and Carlson.
Arizona 12/2 – This is UNLV’s premier non-conference game of the year, and it’s against an Arizona squad that should compete for a national championship. Junior PG Allonzo Trier will be leading one of Sean Miller’s most talented teams he’s ever had in Tucson. He’s joined by 7’0” center DeAndre Ayton, who was a top five incoming freshman and a likely lottery pick in next year’s NBA draft.
Oral Roberts – The Golden Eagles, picked to finish 7th in the Summit League, are led by senior Albert Owens and sophomore Emmanuel Nzekwesi. Both players were voted onto preseason teams, and both are prolific scorers and rebounders, but outside of this duo, ORU doesn’t match up favorably, as UNLV has far superior guards on its roster.
Illinois 12/9 – This will be the Illini’s first season with Brad Underwood as the head coach. Underwood led teams, play a hard, fast paced game, but this is looking like a transition season for Illinois, as Underwood works on the rebuild. Junior forwards Leron Black and Michael Finke are the top returners, with Black operating out of the post and Finke being their top perimeter threat. Finke hit 41% of his 3-point attempts last season.
Pacific 12/16 – The Tigers will be looking for major contributions from transfer guard Miles Reynolds and red shirt junior forward Jack Williams, after losing their two best players to graduation, from a team that finished 11-22 last year. The Tigers will have a tough time overcoming the size advantage in the post as they only have one player over 6’8”.
Mississippi Valley State 12/20 – The Devils finished 7-25 last season, and all three of their leading scorers from that team have since graduated. This game will present Menzies with a good opportunity to get his bench players significant minutes.
Northern Colorado 12/22 – The Bears are led by junior guard, and Las Vegas native, Jordan Davis. He led the team last season in points per game at 19.3, and assists, 5.6. Guard Chaz Glotta also scored in double figures for UNC last year, primarily scoring from the perimeter as he shot 226 3-pointers last season, connecting on 77 of them.
While it’s not a very challenging non conference schedule, it’ll give this team a great opportunity to get some wins under their belt and hopefully take some momentum into conference play.