The 2015-2016 season was tumultuous for UNLV Basketball. It was marked by the departure of a head coach, followed by confusing losses as well as the expected and not-so-expected departures of former players. Most fans in Vegas are ready for a fresh start.
Now that new coach Marvin Menzies has refreshed the roster with a combination of incoming freshmen and transfers to join his few returners, his goal is to bring quality basketball back to UNLV. In fact, the expectations for a winning season might be at their lowest in years headed into 2016-2017. Regardless of the uncertainty of what this young, inexperienced squad might bring, the Rebels' schedule does not disappoint.
UNLV Basketball plays, arguably, one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country next year. Certainly, it is the the most challenging of all other Mountain West teams and it is without a doubt the hardest set of games lined up for the Rebels in recent memory. It will be highlighted with a much anticipated match-up between Duke and UNLV in December (a game played on a "neutral" court at the brand new T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas).
Here's how the non-conference schedule looks:
Nov. 1: Dakota Wesleyan
Nov. 5: New Mexico Highlands
Nov. 11: South Alabama
Nov. 16: UC Riverside
Nov. 19: Cal State Fullerton (Global Sports Classic or GSC)
Nov. 22: Northern Arizona (GSC)
Nov. 25: Texas Christian (GSC)
Nov. 26: Western Kentucky or Washington (GSC)
Nov. 30: @ Southern Utah
Dec. 3: @ Arizona State
Dec. 10: Duke (T-Mobile Arena)
Dec. 14: Incarnate Word
Dec. 17: @ Oregon
Dec. 19: Southern Illinois
Dec. 22: Kansas
Can you say, ouch? For a largely inexperienced group who will be learning to play together as they go, this schedule might initially spell trouble. Yet, Menzies and his men have the benefit of a home-heavy line up (highlighted by the advantage of the Jayhawks coming into town).
There are several quality games coming out of this non-conference starting with the always pesky Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside squads, but obviously the meat of the schedule starts in December.
A brutal line up includes ASU, Duke, Oregon, and ends with Kansas. The Rebels will be tested, and if they can make decent work out of the final portion of their schedule, they will be in great shape with their SOS and RPI. However, if they fumble at the start of the non-conference season and flail toward the tough ending, it could equate to rough waters.
Regardless of the non-conference outcome, the number of home games combined with the quality of the level of competition will mean a boon for the Thomas and Mack Center Rebel game attendance. Last season, especially after questionable losses and player injuries, attendance was far from its historic numbers of the past. Rebel fans and potential season ticket buyers should be pleased to see such a jam packed schedule.