Around the Rim: Pacific at Nevada Preview

For Wolf Pack fans, basketball season couldn't come soon enough. The football team has struggled in its first year under head coach Brian Polian so maybe hoops can give fans a little bit of something to hold too.

Last year Nevada finished last in the Mountain West and stumbled to a 10-6 out of conference record. But that's the past. As with any sport, the start of the new season brings hope and joy to many. It also brings the possibility to get let down. Again that's what makes sports fun. It will be a long ride but hopefully Lawlor can be packed for all the ups and downs.

The road to the NCAA tournament (too lofty of expectations?) begins Friday November 8th against the Pacific Tigers. For the Wolf Pack, the roster will be filled with eight players who have never played a minute for Nevada. One of the biggest questions coming into the year is how will these new players such as UTEP transfer Michael Perez and freshmen D.J. Fenner fill their roles on the team. Friday we will have a bit more clarity. Nevada could be a bit thin in the front court with JC transfers Chris Brown and A.J. West out indefinitely with a medical issue and NCAA eligibility problem respectively.

For the Tigers, who earned an NCAA berth last year after winning the Big West Conference tournament, they come into the year with lofty expectations. This year though, they take a step up in competition to the West Coast Conference, similar to Nevada's move to the Mountain West last year. Unlike the Wolf Pack though, Pacific will have a similar squad to last years with eight players returning led by senior guard Sama Taku. Down low, the Tigers also return seniors Ross Rivera (7.6 ppg and 2.7 rpg) and Tony Gill (7.2 ppg and 3.3 rpg) who will likely matchup against Cole Huff and Ali Fall in the starting lineups.

The teams coincidentally both played Montana Tech in their exhibition games this year with Pacific winning 76-52 and Nevada winning 98-57. Last year Nevada lost on the road in overtime to the Tigers by a final of 78-72. This year Nevada should come away with a victory at home to start the year despite the experience Pacific brings.

Prediction: Nevada 75 Pacific 61

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