A jam-packed schedule on Saturday is followed by lighter slates both Sunday and Monday as college basketball closes out its 11th week and begins Week 12. Only five teams ranked by the coaches this past week will be in action the next two days, and only seven games involve teams from the Big 6 conferences.
The shorter programs the next two days are no doubt due to university athletic departments wanting to give their student-athletes a little extra time to hit the books.
But seriously folks, whatever the reason for the brief lull on the schedule, it gives us a chance to check out some of the conference races outside the Big 6 and mention key contests coming up in those leagues on Sunday and Monday. Note that straight up and against the spread records listed below reflect play before Saturday's games.
Colonial Athletic Association
Half of the 12 CAA teams entered play on Saturday separated by just a game at the top of the conference standings. George Mason and Old Dominion owned 6-1 records with Virginia Commonwealth, Georgia State, Drexel and Northeastern all sporting 5-2 marks.
George Mason (14-5 SU, 8-9 ATS) stands the best chance to hold serve at the top of the ranks as the Patriots face teams from the second half of the ranks over their next five games, including their opponent on Saturday, Towson, and Monday's foe, UNC-Wilmington.
Old Dominion (11-8 SU, 7-7-1 ATS) was an 8-point underdog at the VCU Rams (14-5 SU, 10-8 ATS) on Saturday in a key clash. The Monarchs head home following that match to take on Northeastern (9-8 SU, 6-9 ATS) on Monday. Old Dominion was a 1½-point 'dog at Northeastern on Dec. 3, and came away with the outright win over the Huskies, 69-59.
Georgia State (13-5 SU, 9-5 ATS) is coming off a loss at Northeastern on Wednesday and remains on the road Saturday at Delaware as 5-point chalk. The Panthers will be home on Monday to battle James Madison. Drexel (13-5 SU, 9-7 ATS) went into Saturday's matchup at home vs. Northeastern on a 5-game win streak and laying 9-9½ against the Huskies. The Dragons will be on the road Monday when they should be favored again vs. William & Mary.
Another conference that is tight at the top, the Horizon League went into Saturday's slate with five teams just a game apart. Three teams are at the top of the list with 6-2 league records, and two of them will meet on Sunday when Cleveland State (16-4 SU, 7-9-1 ATS) hosts UW-Milwaukee (13-7 SU, 6-8-2 ATS). Tip-off inside Wolstein Center will come a few minutes past 2:00 p.m. (ET).
Valparaiso (13-7 SU, 9-7 ATS) is also at 6-2 in HL play, and the Crusaders were in the midst of a 3-game win streak heading into their Saturday game at Illinois-Chicago as 5½-point favorites.
Two squads are just behind that trio with 5-3 league marks. Youngstown State (10-8 SU, 7-7 ATS) pulled off a mild upset Friday night as 2½-point home 'dogs against Milwaukee, and the Penguins will be right back on their own court Sunday when they host Wisconsin-Green Bay. Butler (11-9 SU, 4-11-2 ATS) will try and hang with the leaders during a 4-game road trip that started Thursday and was continuing on Saturday as 8-point favorites at Loyola (IL).
Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference
The MAAC will have everyone hitting the hardwood either Sunday or Monday, and is a three-team race presently with Iona leading the way at 7-1 followed by a pair of 6-2 squads, Loyola (MD) and Manhattan.
Iona (15-4 SU, 8-8-1 ATS) just finished a 3-game homestand on Friday with a resounding 91-71 win over Rider. Believe it or not, that final just barely stayed below a 164-point hurdle on the total. The Gaels now begin a 3-game road trip on Monday with a trip to Siena. Those two teams met at Madison Square Garden about three weeks ago, with Iona easily covering a 15-point spread with a 95-59 victory that just skipped 'over' a 150½-point figure.
The Loyola Greyhounds (13-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) will host St. Peter's on Sunday at noon (ET), and the Manhattan Jaspers (13-7 SU, 14-4 ATS) are home to meet Niagara at 4:00 p.m. (ET). The Jaspers have covered their last five and rank as the most profitable cover team in the nation with 9.6 units in the black for their backers.