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Breakfast buffet: Atlantic 10 helped by Xavier's win at Florida

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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Xavier had squandered chances at marquee non-conference wins at Butler and Wake Forest earlier this year, but it got the signature victory it needed to shore up its spot in the NCAA tournament with a gritty win at Florida on Saturday. That win was likely just as big for the rest of the Atlantic 10 as for the Musketeers themselves because it gives the whole league a credibility jolt and RPI boost.

• Florida's loss has the exact opposite effect for the NCAA tournament hopefuls in the soft middle of the SEC. Not only are the Gators likely on the wrong side of the bubble right now with games against Kentucky, Tennessee and Vanderbilt still left on the schedule, but Ole Miss and Mississippi State also shouldn't feel too comfortable as a result.

• Don't look now, but the Mountain West darlings of a week ago have now lost two in a row and are probably right back on the bubble. That, of course, would be UNLV, which fell into a tie for third with San Diego State after getting outplayed in every possible way on Saturday in a road loss to the Aztecs. UNLV is done with BYU, New Mexico and San Diego State the rest of the regular season, but the Rebels can't afford to drop a game to one of the also-rans the rest of the way.

• Just because the New Jersey Nets' new deep-pocketed Russian owner is interested in bringing Mike Krzyzewski aboard next season doesn't mean the Duke coach has any intentions of leaving the Blue Devils. "The guy is Russian. You think he'd hire a Polish guy?" Krzyzewski said Saturday, diffusing speculation with humor. "No one has contacted me. If they do, 'Nyet' would be easy to say."

• Apparently Dominique Jones' game is better than his word. After Notre Dame snapped South Florida's four-game win streak earlier this week, Jones confidently wrote on his facebook page, "I guarantee 4 more Big East wins in a row – copyright this quote." Well, maybe that win streak will start next week because Jones' Bulls lost a crucial bubble game to Marquette on Saturday to fall to 5-7 in Big East play.

• Dayton and Rhode Island are two Atlantic 10 teams that may need the extra boost from Xavier's win after discouraging losses on Saturday. The Flyers blew a late lead and lost in double overtime at St. Louis, while an angry Temple team took out its frustration over a loss to Richmond the previous week by pulverizing the Rams.

• A win at Baylor might have been all Missouri needed to secure an NCAA tournament spot, but the Tigers inability to rebound came back to haunt them at the worst possible time. The Bears had one, two, three looks at a game-winning tip-in before Ekpe Udoh finally delivered, lifting Baylor to a wild 64-62 victory on Saturday.

• Struggling Texas and Michigan State each righted themselves with victories over lesser teams in their leagues, the Longhorns blasting Nebraska and the Spartans outlasting Penn State. The absence of guard Korie Lucious tempered Michigan State's win somewhat, but Spartans coach Tom Izzo said it was only a one-game suspension as a result of academic requirements the sophomore didn't meet.

• It wasn't pretty and it wasn't convincing, but Cornell avoided disaster at Princeton on Saturday. Only 24 hours after suffering their first Ivy League loss in a shocking upset at Penn, the Big Red responded with a 48-45 win over previously undefeated Princeton to return to first place and reestablish themselves as favorites for an NCAA tournament bid.

• Oregon State's first victory in Tucson in 27 years likely means the Pac-10 will be a two-team race (or slow jog if you prefer) to the finish. Cal tried to give away the chance to win its first conference title in 50 years by spotting Washington State an 11-point halftime lead before finally winning at home to move to 9-4, while Arizona State remained a game behind at 8-5 with a home victory over Oregon.

• If Saint Mary's had any chance at an at-large bid after falling to Gonzaga for a second time this season on Thursday night, those hopes are probably gone now. The Gaels came back from 14 down to force overtime at Portland but lost anyway, meaning they'll probably have to beat both the Pilots and the Zags in the WCC tournament next month to earn a NCAA tournament berth.

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