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Nevada Basketball: Previewing the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers

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The Eric Musselman era officially begins tonight in Honolulu for the first round of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

The Nevada Wolf Pack tip off their season Friday night against the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers. The Wolf Pack are coming off an abysmal 9-22 season, which resulted in the firing of head coach Dave Carter. With Eric Musselman now leading program, the Pack will look to start the season with a win over a quality opponent.

Coastal Carolina had a very successful season last year, winning the Big South tournament and making it to the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. They lost their top-two leading scorers from a year ago, but return the remainder of the team. The Chants feature a very experienced team with 5 seniors and 4 juniors, including seniors Elijah Wilson and Badou Diagne, who were named to the preseason Big South first and second teams, respectively. Tonight will also mark the debut of South Carolina transfer Jaylen Shaw, a guard with 3 years of eligibility remaining.

The Chants had a tough preseason, however. Four players were injured in a car accident near campus that sidelined them for 2 weeks. F Michel Enanga has been dealing with a knee injury, and starting PG Shivaughn Wiggins pulled a hamstring during an exhibition game, and is a game-time decision. There wasn't a point this preseason that Coastal Carolina had a full squad, and they could struggle with cohesion in their first game of the year. On top of that, the Chants have done a ridiculous amount of travel so far, as they went to Cuba to scrimmage the Cuban National Team, and then had to fly from Cuba to Hawaii for this game.

An area of which Coastal Carolina could struggle would be defending Nevada C AJ West. West was one of the best offensive rebounders in the country last season, and the Chants do not have anybody that matches up well with him. It looks like senior F Marcus Freeman will be tasked with defending and boxing out West, as he has the best height and rebound numbers to match up with West.

Prediction:

It will be interesting to see how much better the Wolf Pack have gotten from last season, and the Chanticleers are a good measuring stick. While I think Coastal Carolina may have the better team, I think they'll struggle tonight from all the injuries and travel they have dealt with recently

Nevada 73, Coastal Carolina 65