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UNLV Misses The Dance, But March Madness Set To Be Big Business For Books


(AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

UNLV's Jalen Poyser (5) and San Diego State's Matt Shrigley go after a loose ball during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Mountain West Conference tournament Wednesday, March 8, 2017, in Las Vegas. San Diego State defeated UNLV 62-52 in overtime.

UNLV men's basketball may have euphemistically gone through a rebuilding year this season.

Under new head coach Marvin Menzies, the Runnin' Rebels finished 11-21 – good enough for last in the Mountain West.

But Mitch Moss with ESPN Las Vegas told KNPR's State of Nevada he never expected the team to have a winning a record with all the head coach changes this year. 

“I don’t blame Marvin Menzies at all,” Moss said.

Moss said Menzies was just trying to get a roster together after being hired last minute. 

Now, UNLV is looking for a new athletic director. Moss believes whoever takes over the department will need to focus on one thing: patience.

“Patience is going to be the key, and I think that is the conversation they need to have with the new person," he said. "They just have to let it play out for a handful of years, because they can’t afford to fire guys and bring in other people.”

Meanwhile, the Wolfpack of UNR – whose assistant coach, Dave Rice, used to run things down at the Thomas & Mack – is going to the big dance, playing Iowa State on Thursday.

Moss said most everyone that pays attention to college hoops knew UNR was going to be good this year, but “I think the way they played the entire year was a little bit of a surprise.”

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While UNR is a good team, the chances of the Wolfpack of beating Iowa State and moving into the second round are slim, according Chuck Esposito, the sports book director at Station Casinos.

Esposito said UNR is a six-point underdog to the Cyclones and the team is 250-to-1 to win the whole tournament.

As for which team will win the whole thing, Moss thinks Duke might have a shot even though the basketball powerhouse is not a No. 1 seed this year. However, of the No. 1 seeds, he's leaning toward University of North Carolina.

And Esposito is cheering for Nevada sportsbooks.

“I’m going to be rooting for who every we need at tipoff in every game,” he laughed. 

From NPR: Selection Sunday: 2017 Men's College Basketball Bracket Set



Mitch Moss, ESPN Las Vegas; Chuck Esposito, sportsbook director, Station Casinos

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KNPR's State of Nevada
KNPR's State of Nevada