Leading up to Midnight Madness this month, ESPN Insider's Countdown to Madness series is previewing the top five seeds in each of the four regions in Joe Lunardi's preseason 2013 NCAA bracket. To read about the key stats and freshman impact for each team as the previews are published, plus expert predictions from Jay Bilas, Fran Fraschilla and Lunardi, click here. This is the entry for the UNLV Rebels, No. 5 in the South (Arlington, Texas).
The key: A high-powered offense
Stat to know: 0.933
The strength of this UNLV club lies in its impressive talent and, more specifically, its ability to put the ball in the basket. When Dave Rice took over as head coach, he made it a point of emphasis to get this group running again. One year in, it appears he has gotten that point across.
The Rebels put up 76.7 points per game last season, good for No. 24 in the nation and No. 1 in the Mountain West. For the year, they averaged 0.933 points per play (PPP), grading out as "excellent," according to Synergy Sports Technology. And while they did lose some talent over the summer, the Rebels have responded by bringing in an intriguing collection of transfers that includes Khem Birch (Pittsburgh) and Bryce Dejean-Jones (USC), as well as a highly touted recruiting haul led by five-star prospect Anthony Bennett.