Jerry Tarkanian's Runnin' Rebels entered the 1985-1986 college basketball season ranked 18th in the country and they would climb as high as #6 in the polls. Led by sharp shooting Freddie Banks and bruiser Armen Gilliam UNLV won both the PCAA regular season and tourney championship heading into the NCAA Tournament.
As the #4 seed in the West Region UNLV ran past #13 Louisiana-Monroe and escaped #5 Maryland, 70-64, to reach the Sweet 16. Ultimately, the Runnin' Rebels would fall to #8 seed Auburn, 70-63. However, the tournament experience gained would serve Tark's team well the following season as they reached the 1987 Final Four in New Orleans.