2018 Nevada Wolf Pack Basketball Predictions with Odds and Expert Picks
When Eric Musselman was hired to coach the Wolf Pack, I was particularly excited for the program. I don't have any particular attachment to Nevada, but I thought it was an extremely good hire. Musselman is a better coach than he was getting credit for back then. He got a raw deal in his one year with the Sacramento Kings and took the blame for things that certainly weren't his fault. After that, which followed two years helming Golden State, he went into a sort of basketball Siberia, not getting the opportunities he should have. Nevada rescued him from that, and they are certainly glad they have. His first season was a big improvement over what came before, and he has been on the climb since. He has used transfers more aggressively and effectively than anyone and as a result has crafted perhaps the deepest roster in college basketball right now. The amount of talent he has is ridiculous. And players clearly love playing for him - three guys who seemed out the door all came back for more this year.
The future is brighter at Nevada than it has ever been for them - or for any Mountain West team since that 2011 San Diego State squad that went 34-3 led by Kawhi Leonard.
Nevada Wolf Pack Additions/Losses
We have to start with transfers, because it is such a core of this team. First, the guys who sat out last season. Tre'Shawn Thurman scored 13.8 points per game with 7.8 boards at Omaha as a junior, and he will play a lot of minutes at forward off the bench. Guard Nisre Zouzoua is a redshirt junior from Bryant who scored 20.3 points per game as a sophomore. Guard Corey Henson is a redshirt senior who averaged 14.6 points at Wagner as a junior. And tiny guard Jazz Johnson is a redshirt junior who averaged 15.8 points at Portland as a sophomore. Having four guys with experience and that kind of scoring touch off the bench is almost unfair. And that isn't it. Redshirt senior Trey Porter is a grad transfer from Old Dominion who averaged 13.2 points and 6.2 boards last year and is likely to start at forward. No team in the country has amassed more talent through transfers this year - or likely ever.
They added all of those guys, and that isn't even the biggest roster news. In a major coup, Musselman inked McDonald's All-American and five-star center Jordan Brown to highlight this class of recruits. For all the scoring on the roster, they lack a board-owning big man, so Brown will very likely start and play a big floor-spacing role in this offense. The other two recruits, power forwards K.J. Hymes and Vincent Lee, are lower-profile and will play much more limited roles. Given the depth of experience on the team, it wouldn't be surprising to see one redshirt.
Nevada Wolf Pack Outlook
The backcourt is made up of twins Caleb and Cody Martin - both guys who transferred in from N.C. State. Caleb is a stellar scorer with a dagger from three, and Cody is an effective point guard. Cody won't have to run things alone, either. Lindsay Drew ruptured his Achilles last year when he was starting point guard, but he is back and should round into form. And returning forward Jordan Caroline, who was a transfer from Southern Illinois, averaged 17.7 points and 8.6 boards last year and is always dangerous. With a starting five of the Martins, Caroline, Porter and Brown, they will have a true freshman and five redshirt seniors. The experience here is crazy. And off the bench the rotation will feature two redshirt seniors, a senior, and two redshirt juniors - all of who have scored at a high level in the past. It's a crazy amount of talent. And it offers real versatility as well. With Caroline and Brown, they can go big. But they can also roll five guards out and run opponents into the ground. And they can create endless matchup nightmares because everyone can shoot and score.
The biggest concern for this team is that there is only one ball. Everyone can score, and guys who can score want the opportunity to do so. If the team has a lot of success, that will solve most of the issues, but a team can easily get themselves into some trouble when they have too many demands for not enough playing time or shots. Musselman's team management skills will be tested here - though it is a good kind of problem to have. The other concern would be with so many guys with so much experience, and with time at some many other programs, it could be tough to all get on one page and to be flexible and bought into a shared vision. If anything sinks this team, it will be a lack of chemistry. But that certainly wasn't a problem last year.
Nevada Wolf Pack Schedule
When a team comes from a mid-major conference, they aren't likely to get a lot of high -profile wins. That means they need a gaudy record to get and keep the respect of voters. Nevada's biggest nonconference opponents from major conferences are Pac-12 mid-packers USC, Arizona State and Utah, so they aren't exactly facing the best of the best. Their most interesting contest is at fellow media darlings Loyola in the Mountain West-MVC Challenge. The good news, though, is that it is certainly reasonable for Nevada to get to the conference season unbeaten if they are as good as they can be. And in conference play they face a very manageable schedule, with San Diego State being the second-best team in the conference but far from the caliber of this one.
Anything can happen, and losses can come from anywhere - this is a team that somehow lost to San Francisco last year. But there isn't any game on this schedule that isn't winnable for the team or not more than one or two games that they likely won't be favored in. It is brutally tough to run the table in the regular season, but this is the kind of schedule that could make it possible if the team is as good as they could be.
Nevada Wolf Pack Futures Odds
Poll voters love them - they are ranked seventh heading into the season. And oddsmakers love them even more - at +800 to win the title at Bovada , they are the third favorite behind only Duke and Kentucky, both at +500.
Nevada Wolf Pack Predictions
It probably goes without saying that I am bullish. I look for them to lose no more than two games and to do so in very entertaining fashion. They will be a nightmare for the selection committee with gaudy numbers but a soft schedule. The futures odds are ridiculous and completely absent of value, but there will be plenty of opportunities to profit on this team along the way this year. And they will be very fun to watch.
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