Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012 | 10:35 a.m.
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Dave Rice often talks about learning to play with a target on the Rebels’ back. On Wednesday that target took the shape of a number: 19, UNLV’s position in the preseason USA Today/Coaches poll.
It's the first time the Rebels have been ranked in this particular preseason poll since they were No. 23 in 1992-93, and it's the highest since they were No. 1 in 1990-91. It's also the highest a Mountain West team has been ranked in the preseason poll since Utah was No. 15 in 1999-00.
With all of the pieces they bring back and the talent from the recruiting class it figured that UNLV would be in the top 20 for sure and near the top 15. The Associated Press poll has not yet been released.
UNLV is at No. 19 with 203 points, just a hair ahead of No. 20 San Diego State, which has 196 points. The points, and thus the rankings, are tabulated by compiling the votes from 31 head coaches across the country. A vote for No. 1 gives that team 25 points, No. 2 gets 24, and so on. This year the Aztecs’ Steve Fisher is the Mountain West representative on the USA Today Board of Coaches.
The top 10 are as follows: Indiana, Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan, North Carolina State, Kansas, Duke, Syracuse and Florida.
UNLV finished last season outside of the top 25 in the poll following its Round of 64 loss to Colorado in the NCAA Tournament. The Rebels are the third-highest non-BCS school in the poll, following No. 15 Creighton and No. 16 Memphis. North Carolina, the Rebels’ opponent in Chapel Hill on Dec. 29, is No. 12, one spot ahead of UCLA, which is still awaiting word on the eligibility of Bishop Gorman grad Shabazz Muhammad.
Other Mountain West schools New Mexico and Colorado State received votes.