- MOUNTAIN WEST BASKETBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS
- March 12-16, $20-$45 per session.
- Thomas & Mack Center, unlvtickets.com.
The Mountain West Basketball Championships begin next week in Las Vegas and could propel the UNLV men’s team to a solid NCAA Tournament seed. The Rebels are in the Big Dance no matter what, and they’re in good position to win the conference tournament for the first time since 2008. To do it, they’ll need to:
Protect the Mack When the Rebels play motivated in front of a packed Thomas & Mack Center crowd, few teams can touch them. During the conference tournament, the building won’t be as partial to the home team, so UNLV will have to play with passion and execute no matter who’s in the stands. It should make for a good transition to neutral-court games.
Protect the ball Turnovers can undo any offense, and UNLV is no exception. Those wasted possessions carry a heavier weight in March, when points start to come at a premium. The more the Rebels maintain ball control, the more they can control the game.
Protect the rim With Khem Birch anchoring the back line, the Rebels have an opportunity to turn every opponent into a jump-shooting team, a great weapon in a win-or-go-home situation. If UNLV can be disciplined enough to help and then help the helper, it should advance as its opponents’ shooting percentages drop.