Jeff Eisenberg

Breakfast buffet: The 10 games this weekend you can't miss

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Pull up a chair and sit down at the breakfast buffet, a daily assortment of all the freshest newsworthy college hoops stories on the net. To make a submission, contact me via email or twitter.

• 1. If Saturday night's Syracuse-Villanova showdown isn't the most anticipated college basketball game of the season, it has to be very close to the top. More than 34,000 fans will pack the Carrier Dome tonight to witness a game with monumental Big East and national implications. Syracuse can all but lock up the conference title and a No. 1 seed with a victory, while Villanova can gain a share of first place and re-enter the No. 1 seed conversation.

• 2. Sunday's Michigan State-Purdue game already had Big Ten title implications, but Robbie Hummel's torn ACL makes it that much bigger for the Boilermakers. If Purdue is going to convince the NCAA tournament selection committee that its worthy of a No. 1 seed, it must show that it can beat elite teams like Michigan State without its injured star.

• 3. The Mountain West gets its showcase game Saturday afternoon when 26-3 BYU and 26-3 New Mexico square off in Provo with first place in the conference and perhaps a top-four seeding in the NCAA tournament at stake. Biggest game in conference history? You won't get much argument from BYU coach Dave Rose. "You will have a hard time finding a matchup this Saturday with two teams who have (combined for) 52 wins," Rose said.

• 4. What is typically a raucous atmosphere at the Cintas Center should be even more jacked up for Sunday's first-place showdown between Xavier and Richmond after coach Chris Mack went on a messageboard to ask his fans to be at their loudest. Said Mack on Friday, "It's some of your most passionate fans, and they're going to get the word out. So what better way than to go on there and ask them to rock the arena on Sunday?"

• 5. The last time Kentucky visited Tennessee, guard Jodie Meeks erupted for 54 points in a performance as memorable as any from last season. Meeks is gone, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe have arrived, and Kentucky will surely be on upset alert, knowing that the Vols will be even more fired up than they were in upsetting top-ranked Kansas in this building a couple months ago.

• 6. Bubble games don't get any bigger or more meaningful than Sunday's Louisville-UConn clash in Storrs. The Huskies need a win to continue their late-season surge and remain on track for an at-large bid, while the Cardinals are also only a win or two away from locking up a bid, but they're in the midst of as difficult a final stretch as any team in the nation.

• 7. If Kansas State is going to give itself a chance to make a case for a No. 1 seed with a win at Kansas next week, it has to beat visiting Missouri first on Saturday. That's no easy task because the surging Tigers have won five of six and have plenty of motivation, needing a victory to gain the inside track for second place in the Big 12 and a first-round bye in the conference tournament.

• 8. Cal hasn't won a Pac-10 title in 50 years to the day. Arizona State has never finished atop the Pac-10. Thus, even in its watered-down state, the conference will deliver a truly big game Saturday afternoon in Berkeley when the first-place Bears and second-place Sun Devils battle for control of the Pac-10 race. A win for Cal would clinch at least a share of the conference title, while an Arizona State win would vault the Sun Devils ahead by a half game.

• 9. Since Texas' free fall from the top of the rankings began last month, the Longhorns have yet to beat anyone of consequence. Saturday's road test at Texas A&M gives them another chance to halt their slide, but Donald Sloan and the defensive-minded Aggies are not easy to beat at home. Wrote Sloan in a recent team-wide text message: "Our defense is kind of like the sun. If our defense shows up, all the stars disappear."

• 10. You know it's a big day in the Big 12 when Xavier Henry's homecoming and a matchup between the two leading player of the year candidates is no better than the third best conference game of the day. Facing Kansas is a no-lose game for Oklahoma State: Either the Cowboys pull the massive upset and punch their ticket to the NCAA tournament, or they lose a game everyone expects them to and remain on the bubble.

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