A win over Wisconsin put the UNLV basketball program back on the map. A win against the Badgers on Saturday could put them back in the top 25.
UNLV, whose upset victory over Wisconsin in the 2007 NCAA Tournament almost certainly ranks as Lon Kruger's biggest win as the Rebels head coach, can use the Badgers as a springboard yet again when the two teams collide on Saturday at the Thomas & Mack Center.
The Rebels, already on the cusp of a top 25 national ranking, could conceivably swap places with the 25-ranked Badgers with a win today.
Though the season is still its infancy stages, make no mistake -- this is a critically important game for UNLV.
Playing in the Mountain West Conference, where televised league games seem tougher to find these days than the Loch Ness Monster, a statement making victory over a nationally ranked, Big Ten power could prove invaluable.
Unlike Wisconsin, whose Big Ten schedule provides a number of opportunities to pick up high profile W's, UNLV's chances at signature wins are fewer and more far between. For that reason, a victory today against the Badgers is practically a must.
San Diego State, after its nationally televised road victory over ESPN darling Gonzaga, find themselves being talked about more these days than at any time during Steve Fisher's run at SDSU.
UNLV, with an impressive victory over Bo Ryan's Badgers, could interject themselves into that same national discussion.
Speaking of interjecting, the Rebels will add a familiar piece to its team puzzle on Saturday when Tre'von Willis, the team's leading returning scorer, makes his season debut. Willis, who has missed the Rebels first two games as well as the team's two exhibition contests, will look to provide a spark off of Kruger's bench on Saturday.
In Wisconsin -- who like the Rebels have started the season with two impressive blowout wins -- UNLV has been presented with a golden opportunity to greatly enhance its national profile.
And as its Mountain West brethren, San Diego State, did before them, it's now up to the Runnin' Rebels to take full advantage as well.