The 2020-21 college basketball schedule was wrecked by COVID-19. UNLV had to cut down on non-conference games, scheduling just seven games (and only playing five).
That meant UNLV lost games against UCLA, Cal and SMU. But those games are coming back this season.
While on ESPN Las Vegas, Desiree Reed-Francois confirmed that UNLV will host UCLA and Cal and make the trip to play SMU. The games were simply pushed back a season.
Dates for all three have not been finalized.
There are five known games for UNLV’s upcoming schedule. The Rebels are also schedule to play in the Roman Main Event at T-Mobile Arena. UNLV will play two of Arizona, Michigan and Wichita State.
With just those five games, UNLV should get at least four top 100 games. Cal was ranked 114th in Ken Pom last season. The rest were all top 75. Plus, Michigan and UCLA have a shot to be top 10 teams next season.
UNLV should still be looking to add a couple of high profile games to round out the schedule. But these five games give UNLV a schedule worthy of an NCAA Tournament at large bid.
Obviously winning them and creating a resume worthy of the NCAA Tournament is another issue that UNLV has not accomplished recently. But at least the hope exists.
UNLV had two other games canceled last season. Matchups with Whittier College and Florida A&M were wiped out. Plus two games that were schedule on the fly last year, Eastern Washington and Pepperdine, were canceled due to positive COVID tests for UNLV.
Those teams could reappear on the 2021 non-conference schedule.
The conference schedule will impact the non-conference slate as well. Last year the Mountain West moved to a 20-game schedule. If the conference goes back to the 18-game schedule, UNLV would have two more spots to fill. But with 20 Mountain West games, the Rebels will likely schedule just 11 non-conference games.
Either way, UNLV has set up a challenging schedule for Kevin Kruger’s first season.