On Wednesday, Nevada’s Steve Alford will become the fifth head coach to lead the Wolf Pack basketball program into the NCAA Tournament. Here’s a look back at how the others did:
Sonny Allen: Nevada moved up to the Division I level in basketball for the 1969-70 season, but had never qualified for an NCAA Tournament before Allen’s 1983-84 team more or less snuck in with a Big Sky tournament title. The Wolf Pack, a No. 11-seed in a 53-team tournament, was dispatched by Washington in the first round, 64-54.
Much of that team returned to the tournament the next season, but the result was much the same. In a Wolf Pack-vs.-Wolfpack battle, North Carolina State eliminated Nevada, 64-56.
Trent Johnson: The Wolf Pack’s first run in the NCAA Tournament came under Johnson, in what turned out to be his final season at Nevada.
The Pack, seeded 10th in its regional, stunned Michigan State in the first round of the 2004 tournament, then followed up with an even bigger jaw-dropper by beating Gonzaga — the nation’s second-ranked team — in the second round by 19 points.
Nevada’s run ended in the Sweet 16 with a 72-67 loss to Georgia Tech. The Yellow Jackets went on to reach the national title game, where they lost to Connecticut.
Johnson later left the Pack to take over at Stanford.
Mark Fox: Nevada’s first sustained streak of success in its modern era came under Fox, who picked up where the Johnson-led 2004 team left off.
Relying on a nucleus of players such as Nick Fazekas, Marcellus Kemp, Ramon Sessions, Kevinn Pinkney, and Kyle Shiloh, the Wolf Pack played in the 2005, 2006, and 2007 NCAA Tournaments, twice reaching the second round. Nevada’s No. 5 seed in 2006 remain its highest ever, but the Pack was ousted by Montana in the first round despite a 34-point game from Kemp.
Following its ouster from the 2007 tournament — a 16-point loss to Memphis — it would be 10 years before Nevada would make another NCAA Tournament appearance.
Eric Musselman: Following a CBI championship in his first season, Musselman ended Nevada’s long NCAA Tournament drought with three straight appearances from 2017-2019.
The Wolf Pack’s 2018 tournament was remarkable — not to mention improbable — as Nevada first rallied to eventually beat Texas in overtime in the first round, then stunned Cincinnati to reach the Sweet 16. The Pack trailed by 22 points with 10:57 to play, but stormed back to take a 75-73 win over a Bearcats team that had won 31 games.
Nevada later came within a shot of reaching the South Regional championship game, but Loyola (Ill.) escaped with a 69-68 win. The Ramblers went on to reach the Final Four.
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