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Nevada basketball's non-conference schedule loaded with WCC foes

Grant Sherfield
Grant Sherfield and the Wolf Pack will play a relatively soft non-conference schedule. (David Calvert/Nevada athletics)

The Nevada basketball team's non-conference schedule was released Tuesday and is packed with games against mid-level Western-based foes in mid-major conferences.

The Wolf Pack will play 13 non-conference games, including six at home, four on the road and three at a neutral-site tournament, the Crossover Classic in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Nevada, which has NCAA Tournament aspirations after going 16-10 last season and finishing fifth in the Mountain West, has only one game scheduled against a Power 5 opponent, that being versus Washington, which went 5-21 out of the Pac-12 last season.

The Wolf Pack's home games are against Eastern Washington (Nov. 9, season opener), San Diego (Nov. 12), Pepperdine (Nov. 30), Minnesota-Duluth (Dec. 15), Loyola Marymount (Dec. 18) and Grand Canyon (Dec. 21). The road games include trips to the Bay Area (Santa Clara on Nov. 16 and San Francisco on Nov. 18) and Texas (North Texas on Dec. 4 and Texas-Arlington on Dec. 7).

The Wolf Pack also will play in the Crossover Classic at Sanford Pentagon with games against Washington, George Mason and South Dakota State from Nov. 22-24.

“Our guys have had an outstanding summer, and I’m pleased with our overall offseason development,” Nevada head coach Steve Alford said in a news release. “Our non-conference schedule will be back to a full 13 games. The challenge is playing seven games away from home, which should prepare our team for Mountain West play.”

The Wolf Pack's schedule includes three NCAA Tournament teams from a season ago in Eastern Washington (Nov. 9), North Texas (Dec. 4) and Grand Canyon (Dec. 21). Each was a 13 seed or worse from one-bid conferences, with North Texas advancing to the tournament's second round with an upset win over Purdue.

For a team with NCAA Tournament at-large hopes, the schedule appears to lack résumé games. None of Nevada's non-league opponents ranked in the top 70 of the Ken Pomeroy rankings last season with North Texas' No. 72 placement being the highest. Only four of the Wolf Pack's non-league opponents ranked in the KenPom top 100 (Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount and San Francisco were all in the 90s).

The Wolf Pack will play five of the 10 teams in the West Coast Conference in San Diego, Pepperdine, Loyola Marymount, Santa Clara and San Francisco. It also has single games against teams from the Summit, Big Sky, WAC, Conference USA, Sun Belt and Atlantic-10.

Nevada has one game against a non-Division I foe in Minnesota-Duluth, which is led by coach Justin Wieck, who was on Alford's staff at Iowa. The Bulldogs are a Division II school.

Nevada returns all five starters from last season, including All-Mountain West guards Grant Sherfield (18.6 ppg, 6.1 apg) and Desmond Cambridge Jr. (16.3 ppg). Also returning are forwards Warren Washington (10.0 ppg, 5.9 rpg) and K.J. Hymes (6.3 ppg, 22 blocks) and freshman starters Tré Coleman (5.0 ppg, 20 steals) and Daniel Foster (4.3 ppg).

Among the Wolf Pack newcomers are former five-star recruit Will Baker, a 7-foot center transfer from Texas, as well as AJ Bramah (21.0 ppg, 10.3 rpg for Robert Morris) and Kenan Blackshear (9.5 ppg, 4.2 rpg at FAU).

Nevada's non-conference schedule

Nov. 9 – Eastern Washington

Nov. 12 – San Diego

Nov. 16 – at Santa Clara

Nov. 18 – at San Francisco

Nov. 22-24 – Crossover Classic at Sanford Pentagon (Sioux Falls, S.D.) with games against Washington, George Mason, South Dakota State

Nov. 30 – Pepperdine

Dec. 4 – at North Texas

Dec. 7 – at Texas Arlington

Dec. 15 – Minnesota-Duluth

Dec. 18 – Loyola Marymount

Dec. 21 – Grand Canyon

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