The Mountain West Conference has been a big surprise for NCAA Basketball this season. The league currently has one team ranked in the AP Top 25. New Mexico leads the league with a 13-2 conference record and 26-4 overall record. Four other teams in the league have posted 20 wins overall, including the UNLV Rebels.
There is no doubt in my mind that multiple teams from the Mountain West will make the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The question of course is which ones will follow New Mexico into the field of 68. UNLV has done enough to justify an at-large bid and it would feel like they were robbed if they are not included.
The Rebels have the 13th best RPI in the nation currently. The team’s strength of schedule also ranks amongst the 25 best in the country. UNLV sits in second place in the Mountain West with a 23-7 overall record and 10-5 conference record. More importantly, the team has a 3-1 record against ranked opponents this season. Those wins came against conference rivals New Mexico, San Diego State and Colorado State.
UNLV started the season ranked 18th in the nation in the AP Top 25 Poll. The team posted an 11-1 record to start the season. Aside from conference play, the team also lost hard fought battles with North Carolina and Oregon, where the team lost by six and four points respectively.
UNLV will be able to match up against many teams in the NCAA Tournament thanks to its top ten rankings in rebounds and assists. Freshman Anthony Bennett leads the team in points (16.2) and rebounds (8.3), while shooting 53% from the field.
The question isn’t if UNLV gets into the tournament, but rather what seed they will be given.