Can UNLV Win The Mountain West Title?
Being on its home court helps.
The Rebels have also beaten SDSU
It is the most overused cliche in early March, but for UNLV it rings true win and you’re in.
It will not be an easy task for the Runnin’ Rebels to win the conference tournament, nevertheless, T.J. Otzelberger’s team has a shot to win the Mountain West.
UNLV (17-14) is on a five-game winning streak coming into the Mountain West tournament. The last time UNLV won the whole thing was 2008. The last time the Rebels made the finals of the conference tournament was 2011.
The Rebels have a first-round matchup against Boise State on Thursday for each team’s first game of the tournament. We saw this game played just last week in which the Rebels defeated the Broncos (76-66) that win created the four versus five seed game.
Going into the game Elijah Mitrou-Long who may be UNLV’s most important player will be a game-time decision. Mitrou-Long suffered a knee injury in the team’s last game against San Jose State. But if Mitrou-Long can compete in the tournament the rest of the field is in trouble.
During the Rebels five-game winning streak Mitrou Long has averaged 17 points per game. In that five-game stretch, Mitrou-Long has been +73 while on the court. The four-guard lineup (Coleman, Hardy, Hamilton, Mitrou-Long) that coach T.J. Otzelberger has implemented clearly works best with Mitrou-Long on the floor.
Elijah Mitrou-Long may have been the Rebel’s most important player during this leading up to the tournament, but the team’s best player has been Bryce Hamilton.
Bryce Hamilton was named 1st team Mountain West. Hamilton has been one of the best players in the conference averaging 20.9 points per game. If Hamilton can get hot and be the Rebels best player UNLV can get past Boise State.
UNLV is not looking past Boise State. But a win over the Broncos would most likely lead to a third game against San Diego State. UNLV is the only team in the conference who can say “we have won a game against San Diego State”.
So if the question is can UNLV win the Mountain West tournament and go to the big dance? The answer is yes. The path for the Rebels is realistic since they’re the only team that has beaten SDSU. The possible semifinals game against the Aztecs will be the toughest game of the tournaments. But if they can get to the finals momentum will be on the Rebels side and anything is possible.