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Is it possible that every other mighty team in college basketball history would have been put to rest by the 1990-91 Rebels?
•North Carolina, 1981-82. Worthy, Perkins, the infant Jordan over the infant Ewing for the NCAA championship in the Louisiana Superdome. "We won with more defensive strength than UNLV has," says Perkins. "I haven't seen them trap anybody yet. We would win. We would just basically win all over."
Wrong. Wrong. And wrong, basically all over. Worthy against Johnson would be a wonderful matchup inside, but Hunt and Anthony would make mincemeat of the slow Carolina backcourt. Remember, freshman Jordan was only a gleam in Nike's eye and several years away from All-Millenium status.
•Indiana, 1975-76. When the Hoosiers got to the championship game, they had only to beat Michigan for the third time that season. "I feel pretty strongly about our team," says Buckner. "We could probably force [UNLV] into a half-court game. We could run some clock and be very patient. Defend them? [Defensive ace] Bobby Wilkerson would probably be on Anthony because he's got the ball and you want to steer him away from what he wants to do."
Good theory. But athletically, at every position the Runnin' Rebels arc better than the Hoosiers were. In the pivot, Ackles cancels out Indiana's Kent Benson. If Wilkerson guards Anthony, what poor Hoosier would take Johnson? And Augmon has made a career of eating up far better scorers than Indiana's star, May, who says, "with no shot clock, we'd win." Adds Wilkerson: "We'd kill 'em. No, maybe not. But we'd definitely win."
These guys have grown saucy over the years. Put those quotes in the Rebel locker room and UNLV wins in a blowout.
•UCLA, 1971-72, 1972-73. Teams that helped John Wooden win a record 88 games in a row; the last champion to repeat; Walton's sophomore and junior years with Jamaal Wilkes as sidekick. The '71-72 team set the alltime victory-margin record of 30.3 points—a mark UNLV probably won't surpass this season—in an era of no treys and no shot clocks.
"Everyone thinks their own team is the greatest," says Walton. "But it's not premature to call UNLV one of the greatest ever. The things that set them apart are discipline and teamwork...that hustle, that in-your-face defense."
Larry Farmer, the forward who played opposite Wilkes, says UNLV is quicker than his team was, but that the Bruins were bigger. "I would prefer if Coach [John] Wooden put Jamaal on Larry Johnson," Farmer says with a laugh. He adds, "But like everyone else, they'd have trouble with Bill."
Last month, Arkansas center Oliver Miller, who can't run or jump with any proficiency, absolutely had his way with UNLV, with 22 points and 14 rebounds. Oliver Miller! What a healthy Walton would do to the Rebels boggles the mind.