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Breakfast buffet: Villanova to be tested in brutal two-game stretch

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.

• We'll find out exactly how good Villanova is the next three days when it puts its undefeated Big East record on the line at Georgetown and West Virginia, a back-to-back that drew plenty of one-game-at-a-time cliches from the Wildcats. Two reasons to be concerned about the Georgetown game: The Hoyas will be motivated after a disappointing loss to South Florida and undersized 'Nova doesn't have many defenders big enough to slow down elite center Greg Monroe.

• Gonzaga coach Mark Few says today's matchup with Memphis is big for his team's NCAA tournament seeding, but his opponent might need a victory just to pull itself back into the conversation. Unless the Tigers upset the Zags today, they won't have a non-conference victory of note this season, nor will they have their usual spotless Conference USA record to fall back on.

• In a season of rebirth for the Atlantic 10, who would have thought that the lone team not living up to expecations would be preseason favorite Dayton? A home win over Xavier today might be the momentum builder the Flyers need to make a late push for an NCAA bid, but a loss would drop them to 4-4 in league play and make the road ahead look all the more bleak.

• Maybe the best day of Mountain West basketball in years awaits us today as four teams with legitimate NCAA tournament hopes clash in two games with major implications. UNLV looks to avenge a previous loss to BYU and solidify itself as a tournament team today in Las Vegas, while San Diego State could go a long way toward making this a potential four-bid league if it could upset New Mexico at the dreaded Pit.

• Hard to believe it took this long for the West Virginia administration to finally act, but at least it's doing something of substance to dissuade basketball fans from becoming an embarrassment to the school. Increased security personnel in the stands will help keep the peace at Monday's game against Villanova, as will extra security cameras on the crowd, better enforcement of an alcohol ban at games and a text-messaging system allowing fans to discreetly report bad behavior.

• Injured star watch I: Syracuse's Wesley Johnson expects to play Sunday against Cincinnati despite the ugly spill he took when he was undercut going for an alley-oop earlier this week. Injured star watch II: Michigan State officially says Kalin Lucas will be a game-time decision tonight against Illinois, but it's hard to imagine him risking reinjury.

• And speaking of the Illini, who are already teetering on the bubble, their game against Michigan State marks the start of a formidable eight-game stretch that will determine their NCAA tournament fate. In addition to the conference-leading Spartans, Illinois still has a date with Purdue and two apiece against Wisconsin and Ohio State. Not sure this Illini team has what it takes to survive that.

• Just when it seemed we could finally put the Royce White fiasco behind us, Minnesota coach Tubby Smith comes along and extends it a little further. So, coach, would you ever take your prized recruit back even though he's quit the team twice and is due in court Tuesday in connection with an investigation of a November dorm theft of a laptop? "Never say never," Smith said. Oh lord.

• Some quick math from the Oakland Tribune's Jeff Faraudo demonstrates that it's still mathematically possible for all 10 Pac-10 teams to finish 9-9 in conference play. The four Pac-10 teams tied atop the conference at 6-4 will attempt to take a step toward avoiding that possibility today, with Arizona State visiting Washington, Arizona at Washington State and UCLA hosting Cal.

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