Big East focus on big Saturday

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College basketball’s conference races are shaping up all over the country, as they are apt to do when we flip the calendar to February. And that only provides better betting action. Here’s a quick look at some of this Saturday’s college hoops happenings.

The only game of the day matching two ranked teams takes place in the Big East when the Villanova Wildcats visit the Georgetown Hoyas (noon Eastern, ESPN). Villanova tops the Big East standings at 9-0, and has its sights set on not just a conference title, but one of the No. 1 seeds in the NCAA tournament that would likely come with it. G-Town, meanwhile, is 6-3 in the Big East, and one of four teams from that conference ranked in the top eight.

The Wildcats are also a profitable 15-5 vs. the pointspreads this season.

The game of the day in the ACC sends the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest to Charlottesville to take on Coach Bennett’s Virginia Cavaliers (noon E). Neither of these teams was expected to contend for either an upper-division conference finish or an NCAA berth this season. But as of Wednesday Wake sat at 15-5, the Cavs at 13-6, and both trailed first-place Duke by just a half-game in the ACC.

In the Atlantic 10 the first-place Xavier Musketeers head to Dayton to play the sixth-place Flyers (noon E, ESPN2), and the second-place Temple Owls visit the fifth-place Richmond Spiders (2 E, ESPNU). These games are especially important for these teams, considering that, unlike the power conferences, the A-10 probably won’t send more than a couple of teams to the Big Dance.

The Colonial Conference features a couple of important games Saturday. In one, the third-place Old Dominion Monarchs visit the fifth-place VCU Rams (4 E). And in another, the fourth-place Drexel Dragons host the first-place Patriots of George Mason (4 E).

Over in the MAC, the East-leading Kent State Golden Flashes visit the West-leading Central Michigan Chippewas (7 E). Kent State was slated for a middle-of-the-road finish in the MAC this season, but has won five games in a row to take over the top spot in the East. Central Michigan, meanwhile, was the favorite to win the West, and that’s just where they sit.

Moving to the Mountain West Conference, the third-place UNLV Rebels host BYU’s first-place Cougars (4 E, Versus), and the fourth-place San Diego State Aztecs visit the second-place New Mexico Lobos (6 E).

And in a Conference USA nightcapper, two of the three teams tied atop the standings at 6-1, the Tulsa Golden Hurricane and the UTEP Miners, hook up in El Paso (10 E, ESPN2). will not only offer betting action on all of Saturday’s college basketball games, but bettors might also want to check out the updated NCAA basketball championship board at the site.

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