UNLV, not North Carolina, will be ranked team for Saturday showdown

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

UNLV guard Justin Hawkins and forward Khem Birch celebrate Birch’s and-one play against Canisius during their game Saturday, Dec. 22, 2012 at the Thomas & Mack. The Runnin’ Rebels won 89-74.

UNLV scores big win against North Carolina

UNLV forward Carlos Lopez celebrates the Rebels' upset of UNC with a court full of fans at the Las Vegas Invitational championship game Saturday, Nov. 26, 2011, at the Orleans Arena. UNLV beat the No. 1-ranked Tar Heels 90-80. Launch slideshow »

When the UNLV basketball team takes on host North Carolina Saturday in its most significant regular season game of the season, the Rebels — and not the perennial power Tar Heels — will be nationally ranked.

UNLV (11-1), which last week beat Northern Iowa and Canisius, moved up one spot to No. 20 in the Associated Press rankings released today. North Carolina (9-3) was ranked No. 23 last week, but fell out of the poll after losing by 18 points at Texas.

Last season, North Carolina was ranked No. 1 when it was upset by non-ranked UNLV at the Orleans Arena in one of the program's most significant wins since its Final Four season in 1991.

New Mexico of UNLV’s Mountain West Conference also slipped out of the top 25, falling from No. 16 after losing at home Saturday to South Dakota State, 70-65. New Mexico received 66 votes, which put them one spot out of the top 25 and 86 points behind No. 25 Kansas State.

San Diego State of the Mountain West moved up one spot to No. 17, and Wyoming received 28 votes — 12 more than North Carolina.

Undefeated Duke received 63 of 65 first-place votes, while Michigan received two first-place votes and is second. Arizona, Louisville and Indiana round out the top 5.

Pittsburgh at No. 24 and Kansas State are new to the rankings.

Ray Brewer can be reached at 990-2662 or [email protected]. Follow Ray on Twitter at twitter.com/raybrewer21.

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  1. UNLV won't be moving anywhere in the rankings until conference season. Big ten, big east, and all other teams will start falling and that's when UNLV, Creighton, etc moves up. Remember, rankings are completely meaningless since we know we're in the tourney. Aim for a 2, 3, 6 or 7 seed for the tourney and they'll be in good hands.

  2. I could care less about our ranking....just win the Friggin' game!

  3. The Rebel's are going to win in a very difficult Arena

  4. williamtomany1 - I absolutely agree with you. It won't be easy since North Carolina is talented and at home, but I think they will get it done. This team is much better on the road than last season.