College basketball conference factors to watch and teams to fade, back

By Adam Burke  ( 

January 4, 2022 08:20 PM

By the end of this week, conference games will make up the schedule for every team in the country. 

Handicapping conference play is different from non-conference action. There is more familiarity in all aspects — travel, scheduling, personnel, tendencies — and everything seems to tighten up more. You won’t see as many big point spreads, and things have a higher degree of predictability.

Before looking at some teams to back and teams to fade, here are a few conference-play notes to keep in mind.

Back-to-back road games: Some teams have been road warriors already, but you’re going to find some interesting road-game spots. Take the Pac-12, for example. Teams will often play Stanford and Cal on the same trip. They’ll play UCLA and USC. They’ll play Utah and Colorado, which is the most interesting trip considering the elevation.

Teams in the Big Sky or Mountain West might play back-to-back games at high altitude. Don’t take those spots for granted. Playing a second game in less than 48 hours at elevation would be tough for a team such as Sacramento State or San Jose State.

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