February has arrived. The worldwide leader in sports reminded us of its approach during the televised announcement of upcoming BracketBusters pairings on Monday night. The highlight of the event will be Saint Mary's visiting Murray State.
There's a ton of college basketball to be played before we get to those games in a tad more than two weeks, including a very nice 56-game card Wednesday night to get the 29 days of February rolling. ESPN2 will air a crucial Big East battle between Connecticut and Georgetown followed by Big 12 rivals Baylor and Texas A&M meeting in College Station for the last time as conference foes. There are also a couple of ACC clashes on the ESPN3 network. Georgia Tech is in Tallahassee against the Florida State Seminoles in the seven o'clock (ET) tip, and that is trailed at eight by North Carolina State visiting Boston College.
But in the spirit of BracketBusters, let's focus on a few of the top games outside the Big 6 conferences, starting with two big ones in the Mountain West Conference.
Rebels & Aztecs Home For Hump Day
San Diego State and UNLV begin the week tied in the MWC ranks at 4-1, and they'll each be home on Wednesday when the Aztecs host Boise State and the Rebels are at Thomas & Mack against Colorado State.
That thud you heard this past Saturday came from Fort Collins. San Diego State dropped a 77-60 decision to Colorado State, the Aztecs' only conference defeat so far. Steve Fisher's group was coming off a gutsy 52-42 win at Wyoming a few days before that, and the good news is SDSU is home for two this week against very, very beatable squads in Boise State and TCU (Saturday).
If you're backing the Aztecs in this one, you'll be laying 13 points. Wednesday's total is 130.
The Rams' win over San Diego State makes Wednesday's game at UNLV even more intriguing from a wagering standpoint. Will CSU's victory have them riding high and even more focused on the Rebels, or does it make the Rams ripe for a letdown?
Dave Rice brings UNLV into this one off a pair of Houdini acts on the road and in overtime, no less. The Runnin' Rebels were giving up 10 at Boise State before needing extra time to pull out a 77-72 triumph. That was followed by a 65-63 squeaker at Air Force last Saturday when UNLV was giving up 10½.
The Rebels opened as 14-point favorites for Wednesday's tilt with Colorado State, oddsmakers starting the total at 151.
Creighton Charging Up The Ranks
Murray State has grabbed the spotlight among mid-majors by racing to a 21-0 record, but the real darlin' of this year's dance could be the Creighton Bluejays. Greg McDermott's gang is a red-hot 10-0 since dropping the conference opener at home to Missouri State, covering six of those contests. The 'Jays have risen to 12/13 in the polls, and will be 11-point favorites with a 140-point total at home on Wednesday against Illinois State.
Creighton's offense ranks first in the nation, hitting more than 51 percent from the field, and seventh in the country averaging nearly 81 points per game. The scoring has dropped off quite a bit in conference play (75.6 PPG). Leading scorer Doug McDermott, third in the nation at 23.5 PPG, has seen a similar decline in his numbers to 21.7 PPG in Missouri Valley contests.
The Bluejays and Redbirds will be meeting for the second time when they hit the floor at Omaha's CenturyLink Center on Wednesday. Creighton was a 3-point favorite at Illinois State on Jan. 13, and came away with an 87-78 win and cover.
Colonial Crews Hog Wednesday Slate
A little less than 11 percent of Wednesday's college basketball betting schedule is matchups from the Colonial, including quite possibly the worst team in the nation in a possible letdown spot.
It's a down season overall for the Colonial Athletic Association, but no team is down more than the Towson Tigers. You might not think that a team that is 1-22 overall on the campaign would have any excuse for a letdown, but that is a very real possibility for the Tigers who are coming off their lone victory of the season to snap a record 41-game losing streak. Towson will be at Hofstra on Wednesday, both teams just 1-10 in Colonial play.
George Mason is on the other end of the CAA standings at 10-1, and the Patriots are taking a 6-game win streak to Delaware on Wednesday. The two teams met on George Mason's court about two weeks ago, the Patriots coasting to an 89-63 win as 12-point chalk.
Three teams – Virginia Commonwealth, Drexel and Old Dominion – are presently just behind George Mason in the ranks, each with 9-2 league marks. Shaka Smart has VCU on a good roll with seven consecutive victories (5-2 ATS, 6-1 'under'), and the Rams will be at William & Mary with designs on sweeping the Tribe after a 69-68 home win in OT less than two weeks ago. That might have been the worst game VCU has played this year, barely surviving for the victory as a huge 20-point favorite.
Drexel will begin a stretch of three road games on Wednesday with a trip to face Northeastern, a team the Dragons whipped 71-53 at home just 10 days ago to easily cover the 8½-point spread. Old Dominion will be home and getting its second look at James Madison. The Monarchs needed overtime at home on Jan. 2 to score a 67-61 victory as slight 1½-point favorites.
The remaining CAA game for Wednesday finds the Georgia State Panthers visiting the UNC-Wilmington Seahawks, another rematch that saw the Panthers skate to a 75-61 home win on Jan. 12 to just cover the 13-point spread.