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Matt Norlander

Breakfast buffet: some blown opportunities and some regular-season titles

The Dagger

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Substitute teacher time! I'm Norlander, and I've got a slightly different take on today's buffet, as I'll be primarily focusing on the games of consequence last night, as we're getting bubble-influenced results on a nightly basis now. As always, to make a submission you can contact Jeff via email or twitter. He loves your mail; tells me about it all the time.

Jon Diebler was scorching from behind the arc last night. It got ridiculous. Diebler had 21 points, all of which came from 3-pointers. You'd think Illinois would try and scheme around that, what with being anything but a sure thing for an at-large bid. Kind of hard to hone in on Diebler when it's so hard to leave Evan Turner, I suppose. The near-surefire Player of the Year had a marginal night by his standards, going for 16 points, 12 rebounds and five assists. Mark Titus, the man with the most well-read player blog in the history of the medium, welled up on Senior Night. The Buckeyes started 1-3 in conference and now have at least a share of the Big Ten regular-season title. Illinois now 18-12, an RPI buried in the 70s and, I think, needs two wins to feel safe.

• The Golden Eagles embarrassed Louisville, 69-48. Marquette is now in the NCAA tournament, no doubt about it. This kind of beatdown, coming off three road wins in OVERTIME? Yeah, lock for Buzz Williams' team, which absolutely deserves it. There's a sentiment that Louisville is still very safe. I respectfully disagree.

• Syracuse locks up the No. 1 seed in the Big East conference tournament. You know the whole joke about a player who's been around college for four years seemingly having been there for a decade, right? Not funny and all that. Well, to me, time has absolutely flown with this Syracuse club. I can't believe Andy Rautins and Arinze Onuaku are finishing up their fifth years. Onuaku had 21 points and eight rebounds; Rautings a team-high seven assists. Wes Johnson said he'll be back next year. Mmhmm.

• Let's move on to Florida, and there were no Chandler Parsons heroics last night for the Gators, who fell at home to Vanderbilt. Is it going to be three straight NIT appearancse for Billy Donovan's team? John Jenkins introduced himself to anyone just getting into the college hoops groove by going for 18 points and doing to UF what Diebler did to Illinois. The last time the Commodores won two games in the regular season over the Gators was 1997. Vanderbilt's been a staple in the rankings this year because they can play eight guys in double-digit minutes and make them all contribute. Florida was the opposite: Vernon Macklin was the only one who did anything.

• Deonta Vaughn got 14 first-half points and tried to keep the Bearcats in it, but a loss here kicks his team to the curb. Cinci tried to keep up with a 3-point-shooting team by doing the same, only it missed on 23 of 30 attempts from 22 feet out.

• Don't overlook the Baylor Bears, who went on the road, could've lost in this situation — being a lock and looking forward to the Big 12 tournament — but they owned the Red Raiders, who have dropped five straight. You want a team that could be an overlooked Sweet 16 near-lock? These are your guys.

UTEP defeated Marshall 80-76. Good job for the Miners. Program got its 13th straight win, a UTEP record. Randy Culpepper got 32 for a team that's enjoying its first ranking since 1992. That's a little shocking, considering these guys are good for an NCAA appearance once every three or four years.

• Trevor Booker had 21 points, nine rebounds and three blocks on Senior Night to solidify Clemson's place in the at-large pool. Nothing on the Twitter front from anyone of the G-Tech coaches this morning. GT has fallen below .500 in the ACC. Sing it with me: "Trouble ... trouble, trouble, trouble."

• Yes, given the circumstances, this was easily the worst loss in a decade for the Gophers. That was a waste of airline fuel. Minnesota briefly got back on the bubble but is banished for good.

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