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Jeff Eisenberg

Breakfast buffet: Four teams whose bubble burst on Saturday

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.

• Bubble burst, part I: South Florida, which squandered a chance to get back to .500 in Big East play with a listless home loss to St. John's. The Bulls (16-10, 6-8) had surged into the at-large conversation with back-to-back wins over Georgetown and Pittsburgh a few weeks ago, but now they've lost three of four heading into a road game at Villanova. Say good night, South Florida.

• Bubble burst, part II: Sorry, Ole Miss, but NCAA tournament teams do not lose 5 of 6 in the middling SEC, especially when the latest of those losses comes at home to fellow bubble team Florida. The Gators closed out a 64-61 victory with six Erving Walker free throws in the final 41 seconds, elevating their record to 8-4 in the SEC and dropping the Rebels to 5-7.

• Bubble burst, part III: If Wichita State's at-large hopes were flickering after a loss to woeful Evansville earlier this month, consider them truly extinguished after the Shockers fell 60-50 at Utah State. Very few teams are capable of beating the Aggies in Logan, but Wichita State needed another marquee win to maintain even a shred of hope.

• Bubble burst, part IV: Was it really only two weeks ago that Charlotte led the resurgent Atlantic-10 and appeared poised to make a return to the NCAA tournament? The 49ers lost for the third straight time to slip to 18-8, 8-4, this time falling 81-67 at home to Xavier in front of UCLA athletic director and NCAA selection committee chair Dan Guerrero no less.

• I'm certainly not ready to add Illinois to the Bubble burst section, but the Illini can't feel too comfortable despite a good effort in a 75-65 road loss at surging Purdue. Illinois falls to 17-10, 9-5 and has a difficult remaining Big Ten schedule, with Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio State and Wisconsin left to play.

• Quietly, Oklahoma State strengthened the Big 12's case to get seven teams into the NCAA tournament with a crucial 82-75 victory over Baylor. Much of the credit goes to under-the-radar star James Anderson, who had 31 points, 12 rebounds and 4 assists to help improve the Cowboys to 19-7, 7-5.

• Two eye-catching stat lines that could only come from the Pac-10: Washington State upended conference title hopeful USC despite two points on 0-for-12 shooting from its sophomore star Klay Thompson. And Oregon had one assist and 13 turnovers in a 79-73 home loss to Cal. Yes, just one. The Bears lead Arizona State by a game and USC by 1 1/2 with two weeks to play for anyone whose still interested.

• Both Gonzaga and UNLV posted emphatic bounce-back losses on Saturday evening. The Zags took out their frustration from a loss to LMU by limiting hapless Pepperdine to 19 first-half points in a 72-54 win, while the Rebels began an important four-game stretch against the bottom of the Mountain West by snapping a three-game losing streak with a 70-39 home victory over Colorado State.

• Conference USA doesn't get nearly the publicity it once did now that Memphis has at least temporarily regressed back to mediocrity, but the one team that deserves a little more notoriety is league-leading UTEP. With a 78-70 victory over a solid Tulsa team, the Miners improved to 20-5, 11-1 and remained in contention for an at-large berth should they stumble in the conference tournament.

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