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Nevada Las Vegas Still Rates as Big West Tournament Favorite

Jerry Tarkanian isn’t pleased with the way his team has progressed this season, but the coach of 18th-ranked Nevada Las Vegas won’t get much sympathy from his peers in the Big West Conference.

The 1988-89 Rebels may not be as good as some of Tarkanian’s previous teams, but the consensus is that they are good enough to win the Big West tournament, which begins tonight at Long Beach Arena.

“I don’t feel we’re playing that much better than we did at Thanksgiving,” Tarkanian lamented.

The day after Thanksgiving, the Rebels were 1-0 and on their way to a 23-7 overall record and a 16-2 conference mark that is best in the Big West.

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The Rebels are a shoo-in for the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. playoffs, but two other teams--UC Santa Barbara (20-7 overall) and New Mexico State (19-9)--are hoping to improve their chances for NCAA bids.

Tonight, in the first round, seventh-seeded Fresno State will play No. 10 San Jose State at 7, and No. 8 UC Irvine will face No. 9 Pacific at 9.

Thursday, No. 4-seeded Cal State Fullerton will play No. 5 Utah State at 2 p.m; No. 3 Santa Barbara will play Cal State Long Beach at 4; No. 2 New Mexico State will play the highest remaining seed at 7, and No. 1 Las Vegas will play the lowest remaining seed at 9.

Semifinal games are scheduled for 7 and 9 Friday night. The championship game will be 3 p.m. Saturday.

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