Nevada men's basketball completes non-conference schedule

Eight teams in the top 100 RPI, six reached postseason.

University of Nevada head men’s basketball coach Eric Musselman and his staff have completed a difficult 2018-19 non-conference schedule with one opponent yet to be determined. The Wolf Pack will play six home non-conference games, four at neutral sites and three on the road.

The Pack has yet to determine opponents and dates for two home exhibition games. Times for all games will be announced at later date after the television broadcast schedule has been determined

The Pack will play 15 home games this season, not including the exhibition contests. The 15 is comprised of the six non-conference and nine Mountain West games. Utah State, San José State, Air Force, Colorado State, Boise State, New Mexico, Fresno State and San Diego State will be the nine MW home games.

"We are extremely happy with the non-conference schedule that our staff has put together for this upcoming season,” Musselman said. “Our coaching staff had the goal of putting together a schedule that was competitive and would prepare us for the rigors of the Mountain West. We believe our players will be tested early in the season and will grow from those experiences. As we have said before, our non-conference schedule is a great branding tool and is great for our season-ticket holders."

Nevada opens the season with four home games with BYU, Nov. 6, Pacific Nov. 9, Arkansas-Little Rock Nov. 16 and a to be determined opponent on Nov. 19. BYU posted a 24-11 record last season and went 11-7 in the West Coast Conference to finish third. The Cougars fell in the first round of the NIT. The Wolf Pack and Cougars last played on Nov. 25, 2011 in Chicago with BYU winning 76-55. The Cougars lead the series 13-6.

The meeting with Pacific will be the 103rd in the series with the Pack leading 55-47. Nevada has won the last two meetings after a 77-67 road win last year. The Tigers were 14-18 last year and 9-9 in the WCC under first-year head coach Damon Stoudamire.

The next two home games are part of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational. Nevada and Little Rock have not met on the hardwood. The Trojans were 7-25 last season and have new coach in Darrell Walker. The opponent for the Nov. 19 home game has yet to be determined.

A pair of neutral sites games in Las Vegas concluded the four games of the Continental Tire Las Vegas Invitational at the Orleans Arena. The Pack opens with Tulsa on Thanksgiving, Nov. 22. Last season, the Golden Hurricane basketball team was 19-12 and 12-6 in the American Athletic Conference. The two teams last met on Dec. 23, 2009 in Las Vegas with the Pack winning 99-68. Tulsa leads the series 7-6 but the Pack has won the last five meetings.

In the second game in Las Vegas, Nevada will face either Southern Illinois or UMass with the winners of day one facing off on day two and the losers playing on the same day. SIU was 20-13 last season and finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference with an 11-7 record. The Pack defeated the Salukis 86-64 in Las Vegas last season. UMass was 13-20 last season and is led by second-year head coach Matt McCall. The meeting would be the first between the two schools.

Nevada closes out November at Loyola Chicago on the 27th in rematch of last year’s Sweet 16 game won by the Ramblers 69-68 in Atlanta. The Ramblers were 32-6 and reached the Final Four. The game is part of the 2018 Challenge Series that matches teams from the Mountain West and Missouri Valley Conference.

December begins with consecutive games against Pac-12 opponents at USC on Dec. 1 and vs. Arizona State on Dec. 7 in the Basketball Hall of Fame Classic at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles. USC posted 24-12 record last season and finished second in the conference with a 12-6 mark. The Trojans competed in the NIT. USC has won both meetings in the series with the last being in overtime 88-77 on Jan. 3, 1976 in Reno. ASU was 20-12 a year ago and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Pack holds a 4-2 advantage in the series and won the last meeting on the road 69-61 on Dec. 7, 2011.

Nevada will face Grand Canyon in the first-ever Jerry Colangelo Classic at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix on Dec. 9. The Lopes went 22-12 last season and 9-5 in the Western Athletic Conference. Nevada defeated GCU 81-72 in an exhibition game played in Reno last season.

After six games away from Reno, the Pack is back at Lawlor Events Center to face South Dakota State on Dec. 15 and Akron on Dec. 22. The Jackrabbits were 28-7 last season and won the Summit League Tournament to earn a spot in the NCAA Tournament where they fell 81-72 to Ohio State. Nevada has won two of the three meetings but SDSU won the last meeting at home 82-65 on Nov. 30, 2010.

The Zips went 14-18 last season and 6-12 in the MAC under first-year head coach John Groce. Nevada and Akron have played twice with the Pack winning at home 88-61 on Feb. 17, 2006 and on the road 73-71 Dec. 22, 2006. The first game was part of the ESPN BracketBuster and the second contest was a return game the next season.

The Pack concludes the non-conference schedule with its third Pac-12 opponent, playing at Utah on Dec. 29. Utah posted a 23-12 record last season and went 11-7 in conference play to finish in a tie for third place in the Pac-12. The Utes have won all 10 meetings in the series with Nevada. The last game was an 83-75 Utah victory on Dec. 22, 1987 in Salt Lake City. Each school has hosted five of the games in the series. The Utes reached the championship of the NIT but lost to Penn State in the title game last season.

Eight of the non-conference opponents had an RPI in the top 100 last season with Loyola Chicago (14), USC (37), Utah (40) and South Dakota State (48) in the top 50. Six teams earned postseaon bids with Loyola Chicago, ASU, and South Dakota State competing in the NCAA Tournament. Utah, BYU, and USC were in the NIT with the Utes falling in the title game. Eight schools won 20 or more games; Loyola Chicago (32), South Dakota State (28), BYU (24), USC (24), Utah (23), GCU (22), SIU (20) and ASU (20). The Rambers won 32 games on the way to the Final Four.

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