The UNLV Runnin' Rebels have gone from NCAA Tournament lock to now a team that is in a complete free fall, and possibly out of the NCAA Tournament all together after getting crushed by the Air Force Falcons on Wednesday night, 71-56.
This could be an overstatement from myself since UNLV still has an RPI of 25 and a 17-7 record, and 5-5 in league play, however the Rebels are just 2-5 against teams in the RPI top-50. The two wins came at home game against New Mexico whose, and the other a road win at San Diego State.
Poor road play could be the reason to why UNLV could be on the outside looking in come Selection Sunday. The Rebels have lost five of their last six road games, and overall are 4-6 on the year. The Mountain West is the toughest conference to win on the road out of all of college hoops, but road wins are important for inclusion to the NCAA tournament.
While UNLV has just one high quality win, they have just one poor loss. Their loss on the road to Fresno State is far and away their worst loss, the Bull Dogs have an RPI of 157.
UNLV has enough good games left on the schedule to boost their resume to secure an at-large bid, and of the final six they have four of those at home. In the end UNLV's lofty RPI should allow them to earn an at-large berth, almost regardless of what happens. Plus, they get the Mountain West tournament on their home court, and that should be good for at least one more win, and with the Mountain West being so deep their quarterfinal opponent will be very good.
Currently, UNLV has an average NCAA tournament seeding of 7.28 in the 2013 Bracket Matrix Project, which compiles over 60 bracket projections across the Internet.
Once the season concludes UNLV should be in the NCAA Tournament field, but their seeding is taking a big hit due to the recent losses. Only way UNLV does not make the NCAA tournament is if they fail to earn 20 wins, because that would mean going 2-5 down the stretch and 3-9 over their last 12 games.