Survey says: Nevada Wolf Pack should make NCAA tournament
LAS VEGAS — There seems little doubt, at least from people at the Mountain West Tournament, that Nevada will make it to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.
Nevada, the defending MW tournament champion, lost 90-73 to San Diego State on Friday, its first double-digit loss of the season. The semifinal loss knocked the Pack out of the tournament and left its fate in the hands of the tournament selection committee. The MW tournament champion receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
The Pack finished 27-7, and while losing two of your last three doesn’t look great, the team still has a great RPI and a good road record.
“We certainly feel we’re one of the best teams in the country, without question,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman said. “And, if we just got hot recently or something and then maybe lost, maybe not, but we’ve been so consistent from the beginning.
“We put together an unbelievable non-conference schedule. We won on the road at a high, high rate, and so we certainly think that the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee looks at the entire body of work. And so, yeah, we feel like we’ve done more than enough based on how we played the entire season, not getting hot during a stretch or anything like that.”
Musselman was asked if it was frustrating that he had to defend a 27-7 record.
“No, I don’t think we’re defending it,” Musselman said. “Like I said, we’re coming in as the No. 22 team in the nation, and we’ve held that top 25 for quite some time, and you guys are asking the question.
“We went out and did what the committee told us, which was to schedule as many road games as you could, and we went out and won on the road. Twelve road wins is a lot of road wins. We didn’t stay in the region and play a bunch of local schools at home. We have no Division II teams on our schedule, and we have confidence that a body of work that we’ve done, we’ll be playing. Find out who we’re playing on Sunday, that’s how we feel.”
San Diego State coach Brian Dutcher agreed. He doesn’t feel the semifinal loss will damage Nevada’s chances of being selected.
“Absolutely not,” Dutcher said. “They have as good a resume as anybody out there, and I would hope they would look at us as a quality team. We’re a pretty good team ourselves.
“And, that’s not a bad loss in March. We’ve got a good team. We’re quietly putting a pretty good resume together.”
Dutcher said he didn’t know if the loss might cost Nevada some seeding spots. Entering the tournament, ESPN had Nevada as a No. 6 seed.
Reggie Miller, who will do the color commentary for the New Mexico-SDSU title contest, also said that Nevada should make it.
“No,” Miller replied when asked if Nevada could be left out because of the loss. “They have built too good of a resume.”
Miller did say he was a little surprised at the result.
“They are completely free,” CBS sideline reporter Evan Washburn said. “They were already in coming into the tournament even if they had lost (Thursday to UNLV).”
The NCAA did place an emphasis on road wins, and Nevada’s 12 road wins set a school record.