By Gary Parrish | CBSSports.com College Basketball Insider
There was no better show on late night television in the early 1990s -- OK, there probably was a better show, but I was too young to watch it at the time -- than those midnight Eastern tips showcasing UNLV. The Runnin' Rebels played fast and with a swagger and generally dominated outclassed opponents on their way to the 1990 national title, and they did all this with an iconic and controversial coach who chewed on a towel and spit out the competition. Man, those were days. If only the NCAA wouldn't have stepped in and screwed it all up with violations and stuff. Party-poopers, I tell you.
Coach: Jerry Tarkanian
Primary starters: Greg Anthony, Anderson Hunt, Stacey Augmon, Larry Johnson, George Ackles
NCAA tournament final result: Defeated Duke 103-73 for the national title.
Best player: Larry Johnson. The junior college star turned Division I star turned No. 1 pick in the 1991 NBA Draft turned Grandmama. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 21 points and 11 rebounds per game during the 1989-90 season, and he got exactly that -- 21 and 11 -- in the title game before electing to return to college for his senior year and dominate similarly.
Another worth noting: Stacey Augmon -- the three-time national Defensive Player of the Year who went on to be the ninth overall pick in the 1991 NBA Draft. There's a thought in basketball circles that every great team needs a wing who can guard multiple positions, and guard them well. UNLV had that wing. He's now an assistant coach with the Runnin' Rebels under Dave Rice.
This team is one of the best of all-time because ... The Rebels consistently overwhelmed opponents -- most notably Duke in the title game. Their 30-point win still represents the most lopsided score in the history of the final. And here's how loaded they were: The Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four wasn't the guy who went on to be the No. 1 overall pick (Johnson) or the No. 9 overall pick (Augmon). It was actually Anderson Hunt, point being UNLV could hurt you in a lot of different ways. (The scariest part, by the way, is that most everybody from this team returned for the 1990-91 season, and that team rolled through that regular season. But UNLV lost to Duke in the 1991 national semifinals. So it's not remembered the same way.)
Did you know ... Before beating Duke by 30 in the title game UNLV actually trailed Georgia Tech by seven points at halftime in the national semifinals? The Runnin' Rebels rallied for an 89-80 victory in that game to set up their meeting with Duke.