Friday Fodder: Pack teams still figuring out Mountain West
February 27, 2014
Sports fodder for a Friday morning … The Nevada Wolf Pack's move to the Mountain West has yet to pay off for the school's top three high profile sports. The football, men's basketball and baseball teams have gone a combined 29-52 in Mountain West play over the last two years. None of the big three has even finished with a winning Mountain West record yet. We've seen this sort of mediocrity before when the Pack joined a new conference. Football didn't finish with a winning record until its sixth year in the Western Athletic Conference. Baseball and men's basketball waited until the third year. So have patience, Pack fans. The Pack eventually figured out how to win in the WAC and similar success will arrive in the Mountain West which, after all, is just the old WAC with a new logo.
What are the Wolf Pack's chances of qualifying for a men's basketball postseason tournament? Not good. The Pack needs to win the Mountain West tournament to get a NCAA Tournament spot. That isn't reality. They would also have to finish at least .500 to get one of the 80 spots in either the NIT, CBI or CIT (the basketball version of the New Mexico Bowl, Hawaii Bowl and Famous Idaho Potato Bowl). The Pack would have to win at least two of its remaining three regular season games to get to 15-16 and then would have to win at least two Mountain West tournament games. That is not an impossible task but it also will require more consistency and focus than they have showed the last two years combined.
Everything, however, points to the Wolf Pack pulling off a huge upset on Sunday against New Mexico. Yes, we understand New Mexico slapped the Pack around two weeks ago in Albuquerque. But this game will be different. It's a home game for the Wolf Pack. Odds are Deonte Burton won't be suffering from the flu this time. The Lobos can't possibly take the Pack, a team that lost to San Jose State just 10 days ago, all that seriously. New Mexico's Alex Kirk and Cameron Bairstow can't possibly play as well as they did against the Pack last time. New Mexico, which has all but secured a NCAA Tournament berth, really doesn't have all that much to play for. The Pack's season is hanging by a thread. The Pack plays its best when everyone doubts them. Burton is going to play as if his shorts are on fire. His legacy at Nevada depends on the next three weeks.
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