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Jeff Eisenberg

Breakfast buffet: Va. Tech, Wake vie for second in ACC

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.

• With a non-conference schedule ranked, no I'm not kidding, 340th, Virginia Tech isn't a shoo-in for the NCAA tournament like you might expect based on its gaudy 20-4 record. That's why Tuesday night's battle with Wake Forest could be so huge for the Hokies: It's a chance for them to not only take over second place in the ACC, but also capture just their second victory over a top-50 RPI team.

• The matchup between Mississippi State shot-blocking and rebounding machine Jarvis Varnado and Kentucky's bevy of talented big men headlines Tuesday night's SEC tilt between the Wildcats and Bulldogs. Varnardo has enjoyed big nights against Kentucky in the past, but he might have it a little tougher this year since rumor has it this DeMarcus Cousins fellow can play a bit. Either way, Mississippi State's tenuous grasp on an NCAA tournament bid would get a huge jolt with a win.

• It's easy to forget that Wisconsin has remained within striking distance of the Big Ten lead despite the absence of its best interior scorer, but the Badgers are about to get 6-foot-10 forward Jon Leuer back. Leuer said he hopes to play this week against Minnesota after returning to practice on Monday for the first time since breaking his left wrist on Jan. 9.

• It has been 16 days since South Florida last played a home game, but the Bulls finally return for a pivotal middle-of-the-pack Big East game against a Cincinnati team whose NCAA tournament fate will also be decided the next few weeks. South Florida has dropped two straight since its upset of Georgetown, falling in close games at Notre Dame and Marquette.

• Recent losses by Syracuse and Villanova surely dropped the price a little bit, but tickets to the Feb. 27 showdown between the Orange and Wildcats nonetheless are still going for as much as $750 on the secondary market. Not bad considering single game tickets would cost between $34 and $79 if there were any still available.

• Another ominous sign for Ernie Kent's coaching future at Oregon: The Oregonian conducted a poll, and 71 percent of its readership believes the longtime Ducks coach should be fired at the end of the season. Oregon is last in the woeful Pac-10, and while it's not as bad as last year's 2-16 finish, the Ducks certainly don't have the look of a team that's either much-improved or a year away from turning it around.

• Interesting theory for why Washington is practically unbeatable on its home floor yet has only one win away from it: The officials are intimidated by the Huskies' vocal home crowd. "The toughest environment officials are working in right now is Washington - by far," Pac-10 coordinator of officiating Bill McCabe said. "It used to be Arizona. ... But let me tell you, officials will tell you the tougher place now, because of the crowd really, really getting after it, is Washington."

• Amid all the talk about Kalin Lucas' sprained ankle the past few weeks, here's a more disturbing statistic for Michigan State: mercurial senior forward Raymar Morgan has averaged only 5.2 points his last five games. Said Spartans coach Tom Izzo bluntly, "I love Raymar Morgan. But I do not love his (lack of) consistency."

• Former Memphis State coach Dana Kirk, who led the Tigers to the Final Four in 1985, died suddenly of a heart attack on Monday at age 74. Here's a nice piece on Kirk from the Memphis Commercial Appeal in which friends, colleagues and former players discuss Kirk's passion for the Tigers even after his tenure there ended ignominiously when he was fired amid NCAA probation.

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