Even though Apple doesn’t exhibit at CES, its presence still looms large. Analysts and reporters regularly sniff around the halls, looking for any whiff of Apple news or leaks. This time, both MacRumors and Topeka Capital Markets analyst Brian White think they’ve found it, as they peg a March launch of the iPad 5 and iPad mini 2.

Their independent “checks” at the show indicate the next-gen tablets are on track for an impending release. Writes White, in a report issued today:

Our checks at CES indicate Apple will release the iPad 5 and the second-generation iPad mini this March. The iPad 5 is expected to be lighter and thinner than the iPad 4 that was released in October, while the form factor of the iPad mini should be similar to the first generation iPad mini that debuted in October.

MacRumors’ own checks line up with this, and both seem to validate claims made by Macotakara in December. (The Japanese blog believed that a skinnier, lighter 5th-gen iPad is in the works for a March debut.) The same month, another analyst, Doug Freedman from RBC, also asserted that Apple was fast-tracking plans for a next-gen iPad mini.

That’s a lot of talk, but very little substantiation. And you know what that means: This is firmly rooted in rumor-land. However, the contention is not impossible to believe.

While Apple only just launched the iPad mini and 4th generation iPad (with Retina Display) a few months ago, this too was an accelerated timeframe. The company used to stick with an annual release cycle for iPads, but these lightning-equipped models arrived roughly seven months after the iPad 3. And if Apple does call up a new set of tablets this coming March, it would indicate a return to its previous pattern of spring announcements/releases. Or it could possibly signal a new modus operandi, with faster and more frequent product updates to keep up with the competitive marketplace. Either way, if the rumor is true, it is sure to set off massive grumbling among recent iPad owners.

But, as always, nothing is certain until Tim Cook hits the stage (or a prototype winds up getting autopsied online). Until then, if you’re in the market for a new iPad, you may want to wait a couple of months. Just in case.