The Nevada Wolf Pack have been here before, just not very often.
The team from Reno, Nev., enjoyed a banner year in the Mountain West Conference. With that success comes the team’s eighth trip to the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, which started in 1939.
The Wolf Pack (27-7), who are led by third-year head coach Eric Musselman, have been slotted into the South bracket as the No. 7 seed. They will meet the No. 10 Texas Longhorns (19-14) in the first round on Friday, March 16 in Nashville, Tenn.
The Longhorns, who finished sixth in the Big 12, are headed back to the Big Dance for the 18th time in the last 20 tournaments — one of only eight schools to accomplish that feat. Texas has a 3-7 record this season against Top 25 teams. The Longhorns are 5-7 in their last 12 games.
Junior forward Caleb Martin is Nevada’s leading scoring. He averages 19.1 points a game and scores on more than 40 per cent of his shots from the three-point line.
Jordan Caroline (17.9), Cody Martin (13.6) and Kendall Stephens (13.2) also power the Wolf Pack offense, which averages about 83 points per game.
Las Vegas sports books will be louder than usual with a school from its own state in the tournament. The betting action on the money line, point spread and over/under will be heavier than usual with the Wolf Pack in the game.
Sports books on the Strip aren’t the only option for sports players. There are quality online sites you can join — like Bovada, TopBet and Betonline.
The excitement for the 2018 tournament starts up on March 11 with the selection committee’s 68 picks. Pre-tournament play begins with the First Four on March 13-14. March Madness is divided into four regions, with 16 teams in each bracket. First-round action gets underway with 32 games on March 15-16.
The Final Four is scheduled for March 30 in San Antonio. The winners of those two games will tip off for the championship on Monday, April 2.
The Wolf Pack played just one ranked team all season. Nevada lost No. 20 TCU 84-80 on Dec. 9.
If they hope to make a run in this elite tournament, they are guaranteed to battle some top university programs — like the four No. 1 seeds in the tournament in Virginia, Villanova, Xavier and Kansas.
A victory over a top-ranked team would be the biggest in the program’s history.
The Wolf Pack basketball program began in 1913. The team has won 21 regular season conference championships and five conference tournament championships in 105 years.
In their seven NCAA tournament appearances, the Wolf Pack have an all-time record of 4-7.
In 2004, the Wolf Pack won two games in the tournament for the first and only time in school history, reaching the Sweet Sixteen. They lost by five points and were eliminated by Georgia Tech.
Two years later, in 2006, Nevada gained its highest seed in the tournament at No. 5. The Wolf Pack lost in the opening round to No. 12 Montana.
Nevada reached its highest regular season ranking in the polls in February 2007. The Wolf Pack were ranked ninth in the Coaches Poll and 10th by The Associated Press.
The team then went on a 10-year drought before finally gaining a spot in the tournament in 2017 as a No. 12 seed. They were eliminated again in the first round, losing to No. 5 Iowa State. The Wolf Pack finished the season with an overall record of 28-7.