Nevada, much like Boise State, will be trekking into new challenges entering the MWC, unlike Boise State, Nevada will be prepared for the MWC, and may even end the season in the Big Dance, or as a strong bubble team. Nevada ended a promising season with a disappointing finish as they lost to Louisiana Tech in the Semi-Finals of the WAC Basketball Tournament and a Quarter-Final Loss to Stanford in the Nit as a five seed. Three of Nevada's top five scorers return including their top two scorers Deonte Burton and Malik Story. With a legitimate shot a finishing in the latter half of the MWC standings, Nevada will need to rack up some wins before entering conference play, if they want to be considered a legitimate NCAA threat.
Coach: David Carter (4th year)
Key Returnees: PG Deonte Burton: 14.8 PPG-4.2 APG-1.1 SPG
SG Malik Story: 14.1 PPG-2.3 APG
SG Jerry Evans Jr.: 6.7 PPG-4.7 RPG
Key Losses: F Olek Czyz: 13.8 PPG-6.5 RPG
F Dario Hunt: 10.3 PPG-9.7 RPG
Projected Starting 5:
PG Deonte Burton
SG Malik Story
SG Jerry Evans
PF Devonte Elliott
PF Kevin Panzer
Team Overview: While the backcourt is still a strong point in the Wolf Pack offense in returning PG Deonte Burton (14.8 PPG-4.2 APG-1.1 SPG), SG Malik Story (14.1 PPG-2.3 APG), SG Jerry Evans Jr. (6.7 PPG-4.7 RGP), the frontcourt has been stripped to bareness. F Olek Czyz provided the Wolf Pack with 13.8 PPG and 6.5 RPG while F Dario contributed 10.3 PPG and grabbed an outstanding 9.7 RPG. PF Devonte Elliott and PF Kevin Panzer will have to step up their game if they want to make up for the loss of rebounds provided by the two forwards.
Key Opponents: @ Washington, @ Oregon, @ Marshall
Washington: No other team in the Pac 12 was as damaged by the 2012 NBA Draft as theWashington Huskies were when they lost their top 2 scorers Terrence Ross (16.4 PPG-6.4 RPG) andTony Wroten (16 PPG-5 RPG). Despite these losses the huskies are still a team to be reckoned with. The backcourt is will still be a strong point in the Huskie offense as they return SG C.J Wilcox (14.2 PPG-3.4 RPG), assist leader PG Abdul Gaddy (8.1 PPG-5.2 APG) and veteran SG Scott Suggs (7.4 PPG-1.9 RPG).
C Aziz N'Diaye is inching closer to the double-double status as he averaged 7.8 points and grabbed 7.3 RPG last season. The last time these two teams played was last year when Nevada won in overtime, though this time the game is held in Seattle and should produce a different result for the Wolf Pack: a loss.
Oregon: The Ducks are very similar to Nevada in that they were both NCAA Tournament hopefuls before ending their seasons in their respective conference tournaments and losing in the NIT. SF E.J. Singler (13.6 PPG-5.6 RPG) represents the Ducks top-returning scorer while C Tony Woods (6.8 PPG-1.5 BPG) is the only other top 5 scorer that returns for the Ducks. Contrary to how the team may appear to be competitive wise, many have the Ducks in their respective bracketologies, or at least a strong bubble team so the Wolf Pack should be expecting a good, competitive game against the Ducks in Oregon.
Marshall: A surprise competitor in the Conference USA last season, the Marshall Thundering Herdhad their best shot in years of making the NCAA Tournament only to fall to the Memphis Tigers in the Conference USA title game and losing in the first round to Middle-Tennessee in the first round of the NIT. The Thundering Herd return three of their top five scorers in SG DeAndre Kane (16.5 PPG-5.4 RPG-1.4 SPG), PF Dennis Tinnon (10.2 PPG-10 RPG), and PF Robert Gold (6.1 PPG-4.6 RPG). The matchups of Marshall's frontcourt and Nevada's backcourt should produce contrast in Huntington, and maybe even a win for the Wolf Pack.
The Rest: @ Pacific, @ UC Irvine, VS Cal State-Fullerton, VS Green Bay, VS Southern Utah, VS UC Davis, VS Drake, VS Cal Poly, VS San Fransisco, VS cal State-San Marcos, VS Yale.
Non-Conference Schedule Prediction: 12-2 (Losses @ Oregon, @ Washington)
All of Nevada's " Key Opponents" are very similar in that they all were NCAA bubble teams, lost in their respective conference tournaments, and all lost in the NIT. The level of talent amongst the four 2012 NIT teams from last year are all pretty much even though Oregon and Washington have the benefit of playing at home, which should provide losses for the Wolf Pack, though Nevada should be able to handle the Thundering Herd in West Virginia and notch in one key win in their non-conference schedule before playing @ Air Force for their inaugural MWC introduction.