UNLV vs #16 North Carolina
Photo Credit: Mountain West Wire

FSM Essential Preview: UNLV vs. #14 North Carolina


UNLV (0-1) | #14 North Carolina (1-0)


The UNLV men’s basketball team will open play at the 2020 Camping World Maui Invitational against No. 14 North Carolina. The tournament has been moved to Asheville, North Carolina, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.


UNLV vs #16 North Carolina
Photo Credit: UNLV Athletics

The 14th-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels (1-0) come into the 2020 Camping Worl Maui Invitational with a chip on their shoulder, and the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (0-1) will get another look at their own revamped roster on Monday night.

The Runnin’ Rebels opened their second year under head coach T.J. Otzelberger on Wednesday at the Thomas & Mack Center, falling to Montana State, 91-78. Coming off a tie for second place in the Mountain West standings last season, UNLV has an entirely new look this year as 10 of its 13 scholarship players had yet to play in a game for the Runnin’ Rebels as the 2020-21 season began.

UNLV’s returners include senior forward Mbacke Diong and junior guards Marvin Coleman and Bryce Hamilton. Other returners from last year’s roster include junior transfer guard David Jenkins Jr., sophomore transfer forward Moses Wood, and walk-on junior guard Trey Hurlburt. Of the nine newcomers added to this year’s roster, seven are freshmen.

Hamilton was the team’s leading scorer last season. The Runnin’ Rebels’ first First-Team All-Mountain West recipient in seven seasons, he averaged 16.0 points per game as a sophomore. Diong led UNLV in rebounding at 7.9 per contest as a junior. Hamilton was also named a Preseason All-MW honoree earlier this month, while Jenkins Jr. was selected as the league’s Preseason Newcomer of the Year, and freshman guard Nick Blake was named the conference’s Preseason Freshman of the Year.


But the Runnin’ Rebels will be facing a tough North Carolina team looking to bounce back from an uncharacteristic 2019-2020 season.


UNLV vs #16 North Carolina
Photo Credit: Tar Heel Blog

North Carolina opened its season with a 79-60 home win vs. College of Charleston on Wednesday. The Tar Heels are coming off a 14-19 overall record last season, finishing tied for 13th in the ACC with a 6-14 mark. It was the first losing season in Roy Williams’ 32 years as a head coach, but star forward Garrison Brooks leads a young roster loaded with talent.

However, it will be interesting to see how the new-look Tar Heels come out and play against UNLV and other top-tier competition this week after playing just one regular-season game and no exhibition games. Their victory over the College of Charleston wasn’t what you’d call impressive, but it also wasn’t bad for a team that welcomed in six freshmen this season and just a few key players from a team that lost 19 games in 2019-20.

While the young Tar Heels continue to learn a new system, and the veterans continue to knock off some of the rest from an unprecedented offseason, they’ll need to maintain their intensity even when the ball isn’t going through the hoop. There’s a ton of talent on this team, and the ceiling is high. Roy Williams coached teams tend to start the season off rougher than they finish.


This game is personal for me.


Former ESPN Las Vegas program director Mark Seidel was the biggest Tar Heels fan I have ever met. Mark passed away suddenly on September 20th from a massive heart attack. Mark was just 37 years old. As I watch this game, tonight Mark will be in my heart and on my mind. He was a good friend, more like a brother to me and an even better human being. I know that he will be looking down watching this game he was so looking forward to seeing.


Tonight’s game will be televised nationally on ESPN2 with Roy Philpott and Corey Alexander calling the action. Jon Sandler and former Runnin’ Rebel Curtis Terry will handle the UNLV radio call, which may be heard live on ESPN Radio 1100 in Las Vegas.

UNLV vs #14 North Carolina          UNLV vs #14 North Carolina        UNLV vs #14 North Carolina        UNLV vs #14 North Carolina        UNLV vs #14 North Carolina        UNLV vs #14 North Carolina                   

-Joe Arrigo – Franchise Sports Media

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