San Diego State silenced a few critics when it held court against UNLV last weekend and grabbed a crucial win in what’s shaping up to be a stellar race for the Mountain West title.
The Aztecs (15-2) hadn’t played a decent team in more than a month. Hosting the dregs of D-I and a couple non-D-I schools won’t earn you many admirers. But it’s tough to deny Steve Fisher’s done a fine job with this season’s group, given he lost four starters from last year’s 34-3 team. (Next season seems bright, too.)
So what’s next? An even-taller task.
(All times ET; TV info from HDSportsGuide.com)
San Diego State at New Mexico, 10 p.m. (CSB Sports Network)
The Aztecs aren’t the only MWC team on a roll. The Lobos (15-2) haven’t lost since Nov. 24 and have beaten schools from the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12 and A-10. The offense isn’t always pretty, but Steve Alford’s team is a bear on defense, anchored by 6-10 center Drew Gordon. Tonight’s winner gets a helpful first step to that MWC crown.
Cincinnati at Connecticut, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
The Huskies (14-3) won’t have freshman guard Ryan Boatright, which places added pressure on guards Jeremy Lamb and Shabazz Napier to create all their offense. That’s not an easy thing against the Bearcats (14-4 and winners of nine of their last 10), who’ll use four guards at times and hope center Yancy Gates stays out of foul trouble against UConn’s massive frontcourt.
St. Joseph’s at Xavier, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
Can the Musketeers (12-5) continue their climb back to respectability? Another win would boost their post-brawl record to 5-5 and be their fourth W in a row. Better come ready to play, though. St. Joe’s (12-6) is a hit-and-miss team filled with athletes who only play better with a little confidence.
Marshall at West Virginia, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNFC, ESPN3)
It’ll take every bit of guile Marshall coach Tom Herrion has for the Thundering Herd (13-4) to knock off West Virginia. OK, it won’t take every bit, but you get the idea. The Mountaineers (13-5) are one of the game’s most physically demanding teams to play and have one of the nation’s best all-around player in senior forward Kevin Jones. If Jones ever comes off the court tonight, it won’t be by choice.
Wichita State at Northern Iowa, 8 p.m. and Creighton at Missouri State, 8:05 p.m. (ESPN3)
Hey look! It’s the four best teams in the Missouri Valley! It’s fitting that the Shockers (15-3) and the Bluejays (16-2) are both on the road. Any team that wins this league steals one or two games on the road. And if either wins tonight (UNI and Missouri State are both solid, but not elite teams), they’ll have earned it. BONUS! The #BIAHRoadTrip is at the Creighton-Missouri State game. Follow @ballinishabit and @BIAHTroyMachir on Twitter for in-game insight.
Colgate at Army, 7 p.m.
Akron at Buffalo, 7 p.m.
UMass at Duquesne, 7 p.m.
Rhode Island at Fordham, 7 p.m.
Richmond at George Washington, 7 p.m.
Drexel at Hofstra, 7 p.m.
Bucknell at Lehigh, 7 p.m.
American U. at Navy, 7 p.m.
Georgia St. at Northeastern, 7 p.m.
La Salle at Temple, 7 p.m.
Old Dominion at Towson, 7 p.m.
Cincinnati at UConn, 7 p.m.
Seton Hall at Villanova, 7 p.m.
West Virginia vs. Marshall at the Charleston (W.Va.) Civic Center, 7:30 p.m.
Delaware at George Mason, 7 p.m.
Clemson at Miami, 7 p.m.
Murray St. at Morehead St., 7 p.m.
St. John’s at South Florida, 7 p.m.
James Madison at UNC Wilmington, 7 p.m.
Kennesaw St. at Charlotte, 7:30 p.m.
Tennessee at Georgia, 8 p.m.
SE Louisiana at McNeese St., 8 p.m.
Memphis at UCF, 8 p.m.
Mississippi St. at Mississippi, 9 p.m.
Ball St. at Cent. Michigan, 7 p.m.
W. Michigan at E. Michigan, 7 p.m.
Bowling Green at Miami (Ohio), 7 p.m.
Indiana at Nebraska, 7 p.m.
Kent St. at Ohio, 7 p.m.
N. Illinois at Toledo, 7 p.m.
Saint Joseph’s at Xavier, 7 p.m.
Indiana St. at Illinois St., 8 p.m.
Wichita St. at N. Iowa, 8 p.m.
Bradley at Evansville, 8:05 p.m.
Creighton at Missouri St., 8:05 p.m.
Drake at S. Illinois, 8:05 p.m.
Oklahoma St. at Iowa St., 9 p.m.
Texas at Kansas St., 9 p.m.
Northwestern at Wisconsin, 9 p.m.
Nicholls St. at Cent. Arkansas, 8 p.m.
UAB at Rice, 8 p.m.
Houston at SMU, 8 p.m.
Texas St. at Sam Houston St., 8 p.m.
Texas-Arlington at Texas A&M-CC, 8 p.m.
Tulane at Tulsa, 8 p.m.
Northwestern St. at UTSA, 8 p.m.
East Carolina at UTEP, 9 p.m.
Wyoming at Air Force, 8 p.m.
CS San Marcos at Fresno St., 10 p.m.
San Diego St. at New Mexico, 10 p.m.
UC Riverside at Cal St.-Fullerton, 10:05 p.m.
TCU at UNLV, 10:30 p.m.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.