Too often, a game is billed as the biggest game in a team or program’s history when the billing doesn’t quite fit. That will not be the case on Wednesday when San Diego State plays at Brigham Young.

It truly is the biggest college basketball game in the Aztecs’ lackluster history. And it is mighty large for BYU too.

The much-anticipated showdown between No. 4 San Diego State and No. 9 BYU is the first Top 10 matchup in Mountain West Conference history and marks the rare occasion when one of the league’s contests is the biggest game on the national schedule.

The Aztecs (20-0, 5-0) are one of two remaining unbeaten teams along with top-ranked Ohio State. People will tune in – at least those who actually get CBS College Sports on their television sets – to see if the upstart West Coast program is for real.

By now, many people have heard that the Aztecs were never nationally ranked prior to this season and have learned the school has never won a single NCAA tournament contest. College basketball experts and fans want to get a first-hand look at San Diego State against another top-flight team to form a valid opinion.

BYU (19-1, 5-0) is off to a school-record best start for the second straight season and has been getting a lot of national attention due to the presence of scoring machine Jimmer Fredette, easily the most entertaining player in the nation. Fredette leads the nation with a 26.7 scoring average and is on the short list of National Player of the Year candidates with Connecticut’s Kemba Walker and Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger.

The Cougars, coached by Dave Rose, are 8-0 at home this season with an average winning margin of 26.9 points. They seldom lose at the Marriott Center and are 28-3 lifetime against San Diego State in games played in Provo.

In case you are trying to dissect that from the San Diego State perspective, that means the Aztecs are 3-28 all-time when playing at BYU. Current coach Steve Fisher is 1-10 during his tenure with the victory coming in 2005.

Oh yeah, one of the Aztecs’ three victories in Provo came when BYU bottomed out with a 1-25 record during the 1996-97 season.

Because of their struggles in Provo, it will truly be an epic victory should the Aztecs prevail. But you have to wonder what the perception will be nationally should the Aztecs lose.

College basketball aficionados in the Eastern time zone don’t see many Mountain West games due to the conference’s poor television alignments and lack the appreciation for how tough it is for a road team to leave Provo victorious. If the Aztecs lose, there might be a lot of ‘I knew they weren’t all good’ rhetoric being spewed.

Keeping Fredette from going nuts – he has scored 39 or more points in three of the last five games – is important but the respective frontcourts will likely decide this outcome. The Aztecs have one of the nation’s better frontlines with forward Kawhi Leonard, center Malcolm Thomas and forward Billy White so BYU needs big games from forwards Brandon Davies and Noah Hartsock. Fredette’s backcourt mate, Jackson Emery, is also a solid player.

San Diego State would like to see guard D.J. Gay play like he has the last two games – 25-point average, 13 3-point baskets – and not like his career performances against BYU (28.3 percent shooting over eight contests).

I don’t have a feel for which team will win Wednesday’s showdown but do agree that all the hype is warranted. I can tell you that this won’t be the biggest game for either team this season.

That’s because they meet again in late February and that game is on national television. On CBS – a network everybody gets.

Here is the stellar preview to get you ready for the big tilt:


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