Today's Specials: Mountain West pecking order on the line

Jamaal Franklin hit a game-winning layup when San Diego State hosted UNLV last season. (US Presswire)

A couple of light slates culminate in a jam-packed schedule on Wednesday. Will it feature a top-five team getting knocked off, or a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to avoid an upset? That remains to be seen. But there are some really good Mountain West games, as well as a potential letdown game for NC State. Some late-night games are also worth watching.

Note: All times are Eastern, and the rankings are according to the AP poll.

Best game: UNLV at No. 15 San Diego State (10 p.m., CBS Sports). Both teams are deep and talented and have the pieces making them capable of winning a couple games in the NCAA tournament. But which is the best in the Mountain West (whether a third team is the answer to that question is for another day)? San Diego State has the length to defend effectively against UNLV on the perimeter, so the Rebels will have show more cohesiveness and patience than they’ve shown in the past. Meanwhile, providing help defense is another key for UNLV.

Second-best game: No. 14 NC State at Maryland (7 p.m., ESPN2). Matt Norlander wrote that NC State fans should expect a loss against Maryland, but watch this game anyway. People are down on Maryland right now after its poor performance against Miami (Fl.) on Sunday night, but will we see a letdown from NC State after its big win over Duke on Saturday? The interesting battle will be NC State’s inside duo of Richard Howell and C.J. Leslie against Maryland big man Alex Len. On the other side, NC State has to keep Maryland off the offensive glass and make the Terps knock down shots from the perimeter.

Another one to watch: No. 19 New Mexico at Boise State (9 p.m., ROOT). The Mountain West is loaded this season, but Boise State has been vastly improved and might be a threat over the final eight weeks. The Broncos have won seven in a row, including a road victory last week at Wyoming. New Mexico handled UNLV and Fresno State to start league play. Keeping the Lobos off the line is key for Boise State, while Boise also has to knock down 3-pointers. Importantly, Derrick Marks and the other suspended players have been reinstated for Boise.

Guaranteed win: A couple of games shouldn’t be close on Wednesday. Memphis heads to Rice (7 p.m.), where the Tigers should continue piling up wins against Conference USA competition. Also, No. 17 Missouri will likely bounce back from its blowout loss to Ole Miss with an easy win at home against Georgia (8 p.m., ESPN3). With so much hoops on, you can skip these two.

Potential upset: Wyoming lost its first game of the season last week against Boise State, and second-leading scorer Luke Martinez has been suspended indefinitely after being injured in a bar fight. Fresno State is 0-2 in the Mountain West, but the Bulldogs have been competitive on their home court. They have a balanced offense, but will need to be disciplined defensively to get the win (10 p.m.).

Three things to keep an eye on:

  1. Gonzaga looks like the favorite in the WCC, but can Saint Mary’s or BYU get an at-large bid out of the league? They face off on Wednesday (11 p.m., ESPNU).
  2. Dayton and La Salle are both hoping to make a move toward the top tier of the A-10, and a win on Wednesday would go a long way (7 p.m.).
  3. Don’t look now, but Washington is 3-0 in the Pac-12 for the first time in a century. Meanwhile, Colorado is 1-3 after some December hype. (11:30 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

Other games to watch:

For more college basketball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnCBB on Twitter, subscribe to our RSS Feed and subscribe to our College Basketball Newsletter. You can follow Jeff Borzello on Twitter here: @jeffborzello

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