The team tied for the second-best record in the country entering Tuesday night isn’t Duke, Kentucky or Kansas. It’s No. 8 Nevada, which is 19-1 (6-1 Mountain West) heading into a road game at UNLV on Tuesday, and Stadium is providing an all-access, behind-the-scenes look at the Wolf Pack in its newest original series, “Running with the Pack: University of Nevada Basketball.”
The series will premiere on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at 7 p.m. ET with subsequent episodes airing every Tuesday through March 19.
“If you’re a college basketball fan, you’re probably familiar with that team in Durham, those thoroughbreds in Lexington or Rock Chalk, Jayhawk,” Nevada coach Eric Musselman says in the dramatic introduction to the series premiere. “But there’s a program out West that’s been making some noise. No, not those guys (at Gonzaga), I’m talking about the team that exploded onto the college basketball scene last year.”
“And if you still don’t know who we are by now, if we’re on your schedule, lace ’em up because I can promise you you’re going to find out. Are you ready to run with the Pack?”
Each of the eight episodes will also be repeated throughout the week and available for replay on WatchStadium.com as the series chronicles Nevada’s season in almost real time.
The Wolf Pack returned their top three scorers from last year’s team that won 29 games and advanced to the Sweet 16 after an upset of No. 2 seed Cincinnati.
Led by a starting lineup featuring five fifth-year seniors, all of whom transferred to Reno, Nevada has the second-most experienced roster in the country. In total, the Wolf Pack have 11 transfers on their roster, most notably twins Caleb and Cody Martin, who transferred from NC State after their sophomore season, and leading scorer Jordan Caroline, who began his career at Southern Illinois.
“Hold up, guys, look,” Musselman says to his team in the premiere after stopping a drill at practice as Nevada prepared to play Air Force. “When you’re being coached, all anybody’s trying to do is make you better today and prepare you for where you go next.
“Like, OK, Jordan Caroline’s a great athlete in the Mountain West and he’s really strong. Guess what, in five months he’s going to be going against guys that are bigger, stronger, taller, so then when JC goes to do an out-of-bounds play, he should set his man up. Cause next year, in five months, he might be in training camp and (Kevin) Durant might be on him. So pay attention to the details for your own career.”
The Wolf Pack beat Air Force 67-52 the next day in one of their 14 double-digit victories this season.
Since dropping its first game of the season at New Mexico on January 5, Nevada has pretty much rolled through the Mountain West. The Wolf Pack have won five games in a row by an average of 21 points. They’re coming off of a 100-60 win at home over Colorado State in which all five starters scored in double figures. The Wolf Pack shot 48 percent from three and committed just seven turnovers.
Nevada is a No. 3 seed in Stadium’s latest NCAA Tournament projections.
Through Sunday, the Wolf Pack were one of 15 teams that fit the baseline statistical profile of recent national champions. They rank in the top-25 nationally in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency, which is a high-level balance on both ends of the floor that only eight schools can claim.
Nevada is projected to be favored in 10 of its final 11 regular season games.
“It’s about a unique a path as anybody in college basketball,” Musselman said of his journey to becoming Nevada’s head coach.
With a team that has a dangerous blend of experience, size and balance on both ends of the floor, that path has the chance to lead to a special postseason in 2019.