Dead legs and a grueling road schedule are a recipe for losses for most college basketball teams. However, the Wolf Pack, which is off to its best start in its NCAA Division I school history, will be up to the task of facing back-to-back teams who have been ranked on the AP Top 25 this year, for the upcoming week. Despite the relatively tough schedule thus far, the Wolf Pack is up for the challenge of once again getting those key road wins that the NCAA Tournament Committee values come Selection Sunday.
“I thought we did a great job, Ruta did an unbelievable job in a late time frame, putting this whole thing together,” Musselman said. “The thing is when you play a team like Saint Mary’s last year, who’s a really good team, a top twenty team and we a play a team, Texas Tech, who’s right there at the Top 25, and you’re playing TCU, you’re playing against great teams and so it challenges your team and you just go play them and you’re playing one of the best teams in the country on the road. I think we’ve learned a ton, I think it’s a great challenge.”
A short turnaround following a road game against a tough UC Irvine team that exposed some of the Wolf Pack’s weaknesses in the front court, the Wolf Pack will have to step up its intensity if it plans on defeating these high-caliber opponents away from their home court.
“We’ve been just so focused on Irvine. We’ll find out tomorrow when we start talking about Tech and we don’t have much time,” Musselman said. “With the two travel times, we’re not gonna have much time to prepare and it’s unfortunate but it is what it is but that’s what’s next on the schedule and we’ll do the best that we can.”
Up first is Texas Tech, a team that shellacked a solid Northwestern team by more than 30 points. While they fell to Seton Hall in the previous game, they are well rested and will want to remove the bad taste from their mouths.
Texas Tech is a lethal offensive team that is currently ranked 17th in the nation in effective field goal percentage. They are very skilled at scoring in the paint, ranking 37th in field goal percentage at the rim.
The Wolf Pack allowed 42 points in the paint in its previous game against UC Irvine. The Wolf Pack was willing to trade those points for outside scoring opportunities. However, with a highly effective interior scoring team, Nevada will have to shore up its defense in the paint.
Nevada effectively found ways to counter the lack of interior scoring against UCI. However, against a team that is at the caliber of Texas Tech, opportunities to match the offensive output will be a tougher task. The same will go for its matchup in the following game.
Following the game in Lubbock, the Wolf Pack will face another difficult opponent in Top 25 ranked TCU at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. This game was a late addition to the schedule. TCU, who won last year’s NIT Tournament, is poised to make waves in the Big XII alongside Texas Tech.
With the return of sophomore sensation point guard, Jaylen Fisher, TCU will be at full strength when they face the Wolf Pack. Nevada, which has struggled defending quick guards on the road will have to limit Fisher in order to slow down the Horned Frogs’ attack.
For Nevada, the biggest challenge will be responding to the crowd in Lubbock and overwhelming its opponent’s intensity on both ends of the floor. In Los Angeles, they will need to do it in a late 10:00 p.m. tipoff against an equally good TCU team.