WHAT: No. 5-seed Wyoming Cowboys (18-13, 9-9 MWC) vs. No. 4-seed UNLV Rebels (19-12, 10-8 MWC)
WHEN: Thursday, March 13th @ 2:30 p.m. PST
WHERE: Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, NV
LINE: UNLV by 8 (Last meeting line - UNLV by 6, Last meeting result - UNLV by 2)
TV COVERAGE: CBS Sports Network
LAST MEETING: These two teams met under similar yet very different circumstances back in early February. Wyoming came into the matchup with Larry Nance Jr. still anchoring the team, and had only allowed 70 points once in the 22 games leading up to that matchup. UNLV scored a season low 48 points, but still managed to do just enough to walk away with a 48-46 home victory.
What to Watch - Wyoming: The Cowboys are now operating without Nance, and since his absence have allowed opponents to score 70 or more points in three of those five games; a stretch that also encompassed a four game losing streak that finally ended with a desperately needed win against Colorado State at home to close out the season.
Wyoming continues to search for ways to win with their shorter lineup, which is not only shorter by height, but also by depth after losing additional talent post-Nance due to team rules violations. If the Cowboys are to have a viable chance against these rebounding Rebels, they will need all hands on deck to crash the boards, stay out of foul trouble, make free-throws, and likely need someone to emerge with a 25 to 30 point outing.
What to Watch - UNLV: Everyone knows the Rebels are playing on their home court, so there is absolutely no reason to talk about it here - just kidding, it is and always will be a factor. But the more that it's discussed, the more pressure they could face to deliver on the expectation of victory. Fans are relentless, and short-term memory often presides over last season's production. UNLV has misfired on several occasions this year and are looking to put those demons to rest when it counts the most, which is right now.
The Rebels will look to not let the hometown pressure and "home court" stigma bother them while they look to build their NCAA Tournament resume. Keep in mind that as of this week, very few of the nation's leading NCAA tournament bracketologists (which is a thing) have yet to seriously take notice and include UNLV into the at-large, or even bubble discussion. Unfortunately a win over a misfiring Wyoming squad doesn't assist the argument much either - so one has to understand, that between the hometown expectations, the MWC's lack of tournament prospects and a spotty resume with holes to fill; this Rebel team has a lot on their minds going into the week - hopefully one of those things is what Wyoming will throw at them on Thursday.