After a successful first season under head coach Eric Musselman, which saw Nevada win the CBI, the Wolf Pack have decided to up their level of play outside the Mountain West. The team released their official non-conference schedule, which sees them travel to play at Saint Mary’s, and head up to Anchorage for the Great Alaska Shootout. Other notable games include hosting Oregon State and traveling to play at Washington.
“We couldn’t be more excited about our non-conference schedule,” said Musselman in the press release. “From an RPI perspective, we fully expect our non-conference slate to be one of the strongest in America and one that will continue to elevate the Nevada brand nationally.”
While the RPI will definitely be stronger than last year, as the team does not have any Division II schools scheduled, it’s hard to believe this will be one of the best in the country. They play a pair of Power-5 schools in Oregon State and Washington, neither of those schools are a headline-type opponent.
While Iona made the tournament last season, and their run-and-gun offense is fun to watch, they lost star PG AJ English to graduation and won’t be the same team they were.
This schedule lacks a game to really get excited about. There’s no team that’s had moderate success recently that would feel like an upset if the Pack beat them. Only three teams on their schedule even made the NCAA Tournament and while others made postseason tournaments, the schedule is rather boring. There’s no marquee game, unlike last season where they played Wichita State. It would have really done the Wolf Pack some good to play a top-tier opponent. Without it, there’s no question that they will need to win the Mountain West Tournament to qualify for March Madness.
Without a big-time opponent, there’s no game Nevada can’t win. By no means to I think they go undefeated through their non-conference schedule, but no games are out of reach. I expect the Wolf Pack to take a big step this season with the addition of Marcus Marshall, as well as a sophomore leap from Cameron Oliver. This team has the potential to make the NCAA Tournament, and this part of the schedule will do a lot to show what they are made of.
I think they will go 9-4, with losses coming against Saint Mary’s, Oregon State and Washington, as well as losing in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout.