Tourney Treats: UNLV-Cal rematch was ‘best we could do,’ committee chair says


Steve Marcus

Members of the UNLV men’s basketball team applaud as they learn their selection while watching the NCAA Tournament’s Selection Show at the Mendenhall Center Sunday, March 17, 2013. UNLV will play Golden Bears in its NCAA tournament opener on Thursday at HP Pavilion in San Jose.

The Rebel Room

Rebels get a rematch in NCAA Tournament

The brackets are out and the Las Vegas Sun sports team is here to discuss UNLV's draw as the 5-seed in San Jose, Calif., and a rematch with Cal.

The basic process for sorting through the giant field of eligible Division I basketball teams and placing them in the NCAA Tournament is detailed under the heading “Procedures for Placing the Teams into the Bracket” on the NCAA’s official principles and procedures handout.

At the end of that list is a headline, “Additional Considerations” and listed at No. 1 is the following:

1. If possible, rematches of regular-season games should be avoided in the second and third rounds.

As you can tell, that’s a guideline, not a hard rule. But it’s a guideline the 10-person selection committee almost always abides by, making this year’s 5 UNLV vs. 12 Cal rematch all the more bizarre. The game is Thursday at 4:27 p.m. on truTV.

The Rebels and Golden Bears played in Berkeley, Calif., on Dec. 9. The Rebels (25-9) won 76-75 in the second game of a home-and-home series. UNLV had also defeated Cal (20-11) in the Thomas & Mack Center the previous season.

So why did the committee make an exception in this case? Former Rebel guard and current CBS analyst Greg Anthony asked committee Chair and Xavier Athletic Director Mike Bobinski during the CBS broadcast of the Selection Show. Here’s a transcript:


I’m curious to know your thought process on having UNLV play Cal, a 5 versus 12, two teams that have already played each other. And not only that, they’re going to play in San Jose. I’m not sure of the rationale behind this in terms of the committee’s thinking.


As you know, Greg, we don’t make matchups. That one really evolved during the bracketing process, which we ran into some fairly significant logistical challenges making that First Four work this year. That game really came out of us trying to find a way to make that work. I can’t go into all that detail right now but trust me, we didn’t try to make that matchup. We’re aware of that rematch; we’re also aware of the geography. It was the best we could do at that moment in time.

As Bobinski explained earlier in the telecast and as you can see here, Cal was actually an 11 according to the overall seeding but had to be moved to 12 for logistical purposes. The Golden Bears’ reward for moving down a seed, apparently, is playing essentially a home game as HP Pavilion is about an hour drive from campus.

His explanation about the First Four involvement is likely related to not wanting to send one of those teams out west after playing a midweek game. However, it’s not clear why Cal couldn’t have traded spots with a team like Akron, the 12 seed in Auburn Hills, Mich. That would take away the possible home-game atmosphere for a double-digit seed.

If UNLV wins, this is all an afterthought, and the Rebels would have a significant geographic advantage on either 4 Syracuse or 13 Montana. If UNLV loses, though, it creates a mini-controversy where there probably didn’t need to be one, and just putting that game together gives the NCAA-has-it-out-for-UNLV conspiracy theorists some ammo.

Taylor Bern can be reached at 948-7844 or [email protected]. Follow Taylor on Twitter at

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  1. It's a double whammy for the Rebs. As a 5 seed, not only do you have to play a team that the committee actually considered an 11 seed, you get to play them an hour from their campus.

    Bottom line, it doesn't matter. UNLV is better than Cal and should win the game. If you can't beat Cal in the first round it really doesn't matter. This program needs to put up or shut up.

  2. I was really surprised and ecstatic to see UNLV come up on the screen as a #5 seed, and then when I saw Cal I almost flipped. UNLV barely beat them on a last second buzzer-beater in Berkeley and now it's basically a home game for Cal again. It's the game Moser hurt his elbow, so hoping for a little revenge there, and we'll also have Birch this go-round.

    Keys are just to stop or at least slow down Crabbe and Cobbs. Not an easy task, that UNLV did by making Crabbe pick up some early fouls in the 1st matchup. They're gonna have to do something similar this time too.

  3. @Sofakingbored (Wade Fasano) - The Rebels have already played teams where only two guys can hurt them, and they did very well.

  4. Dave Rice will take his team farther in the tournament than Lon Kruger will. Discuss.

  5. Not when he goes up against a better bench Coach at Syracuse. No one would say Alford is a great bench Coach and Syracuse has lost to teams that have been very strategic. UNLV playing against the Syracuse zone goes right into the wheelhouse of problems for UNLV - jacking up 3 pointers quickly without working possession and finding shots closer to the basket. That was the downfall against New Mexico - who actually runs sets with screens instead of playing pick and rolls high up near the free throw line. Look at the assist totals for UNLV - just not there and they need to be to win. Bennett shot 50% against New Mexico from the field and yet between Jones and Katlin they shot 6-32 - mostly taking wild off balance not straight up jumping 3 pointers. They need to get the fact that quality shots win games and with the wild passes to get out on the break - just need to have more thought. Value having the ball and Marshall needs to direct more on the floor vs. posting up looking for shots. Lon wont beat San Diego State.

    Bucknell or Belmont could have been moved to 11 seeds - with Cal being sent to play Butler instead. There is no reason Cal needs to play in San Jose - just not right and the committee's not liking the PAC 12 hurt UNLV in this match up. Thank goodness it was not Oregon or Minnesota which would have been a bigger problem.

  6. @kirkland - if the Rebels play Syracuse, I don't think the zone will give as much trouble as it appears it will give. The Rebels will know going into the game that Syracuse will play a 2-3 zone. Also, the Rebels have capable three point shooters in Bennett, Dejean-Jones, Reinhardt, Marshall, and Moser. I would expect Moser and Lopez-Sosa to play a lot versus Syracuse because they're good with the ball at the free throw line. They can break down a zone. Syracuse relies on having the weakest guy with the ball in his hands catch the ball at the free throw line. The weakest guy will hardly be weak for UNLV. Again, this is assuming that they're able to beat Cal on Thursday and Syracuse also wins on Thursday.

  7. Hopefully UNLV gets through Cal. If they use ABeast as an advantage, Cal can't do anything about it. Defensive effort is the key, which brings me to a wish for UNLV.

    The Syracuse matchup shows an agressive 2-3 zone that focusses on wing movement to the perimeter. Syracuse needs long, quick athletes on the 3 line of the zone to be able to close out. I have watched Boeheim explain his 2-3 before. Wouldn't Boeheim's version of the 2-3 be perfect for UNLV? Why do we insist on running a man D that makes it impossible to use Bennet, Moser, and Birch at the same time? Those are arguably the best 3 players on the team, but man to man perimeter d is too much for Moser or Bennet. Putting them in a zone gives a more natural feel and makes the transition game easier with rebounders in their natural positions instead of switching screens on the perimeter.

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  9. Good on Greg Anthony for calling this out. There is an institutional bias at the NCAA against UNLV at Anthony definitely knows that score. Further, so do coaches Rice and Augmon. That should be a good staff motivator going into Thursday.

  10. Usually, Greg Anthony never says anything positive about UNLV. He is biased against his alma mater. I like a UNLV graduate has his spotlight but he doesn't say anything but negative things about UNLV.

  11. i thought you folks at the las vegas sun didnt allow post on home shopping scams who is the moderator on this ? rebels should win against cal bennett is playing well

  12. @DaBush78 - Playing zone makes it harder to rebound. It wouldn't make sense to play zone against at team like Colorado State, for instance.

  13. DaBush78, I totally agree with you. It would make sense to try and get your best 5 players on the court at once:
    Marshall at the 1
    BDJ at the 2
    Moser at the 3
    Bennett at the 4
    Birch at the 5
    Marshall and BDJ at the top of the 2-3 with Moser, Birch, and Bennett on the bottom. That is one long, athletic defensive team right there. I'm not saying that we should play zone the whole game, but for a 4 or 5 minute stretch I think it would be very disruptive for the other team

    phillips1990702, you are right that one of the weaknesses of a zone is rebounding, but I think Moser, Birch, and Bennett's size and athleticism would be able to rebound. Plus BDJ and Marshall are very good rebounders. Syracuse plays zone exclusively and they don't have problems giving up rebounds because they're so long and athletic. And those 5 I mentioned are just as long and athletic as Syracuse (maybe more). Again, I don't think we should play zone for the entire game, but I think it could be really effective for a 4-5 minute stretch.

  14. Like a bunch of hens cackiling over nothing, UNLV got a seed they didn't deserve but it works out because the bracket they're in will eat em up.

  15. @fedup2here (Kenny Rogers) - Quit being a troll.