Breakfast buffet: Purdue shoots for share of Big Ten lead

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.

• Less than a month after a 2-3 start to league play put Purdue hopelessly behind Michigan State in the race for the Big Ten title, the Boilermakers suddenly have a chance to catch the Spartans with a win at home tonight. One piece of bad news for Purdue: It sounds like reigning Big Ten player of the year Kalin Lucas will be back for Michigan State, though nobody's sure how effective he'll be.

• Already shorthanded as a result of transfers and the loss of much of its recruiting class to John Calipari and Kentucky, Memphis lost another player on Monday night when one-time starter Pierre Henderson-Niles left the team. The timing of this is certainly strange, but it sounds as if this was a case of apathy and attitude issues – not one where there's a smoking gun. Henderson-Niles did post "Wanna give dis (stuff) up" on his facebook page the day after the Tigers lost to SMU last week.

• With its TV deal set to expire after the 2011-12 season, the Pac-10 sounds more serious about expansion then it has been in the past. “We’re looking at it very seriously," new Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said. "It wasn’t something identified for me by the presidents when I took the job. But it’s very natural as you look at the value of the conference from a media standpoint. If we were ever going to look at expansion, this would be the logical time."

• I've given you my take a couple times on what's wrong with Texas. Here's ESPN's Andy Katz addressing that issue and giving a rambling Rick Barnes a forum to address it as well. Says Barnes: "We’re going to fix this. We’ll be where we need to be." Great news, coach, but your fan base probably wouldn't mind some specifics on how you plan to accomplish that.

• The timing of Saturday night's shoplifting arrest of Oklahoma's Andrew Fitzgerald and Steven Pledger is the most disturbing part of this story. Seriously, guys, the best way you could think of celebrating a victory over Texas was to go pilfer a couple shirts from Dillard's? I know Norman isn't exactly teeming with entertainment options, but c'mon.

• Bogged down by legal trouble and lackluster losses early this season, Arkansas has suddenly emerged from out of nowhere to lead the otherwise unremarkable SEC West. Since losing to Kentucky by 31 a few weeks back, Arkansas has won four straight behind surging Courtney Fortson, beating Mississippi State, Mississippi and Georgia in the process.

• Thirty-two of Butler's past 34 league games at Hinkle Fieldhouse have ended in victory for the home team, but both of the Bulldogs' two losses came against Loyola. They avoided a third loss on Monday night, rallying from a nine-point deficit for a 62-47 victory that clinched at least a share of the Horizon League championship with a couple weeks left to play.

• Siena also clinched a share of the MAAC title with a narrow two-point win over Fairfield on Monday night, but Stags coach Ed Cooley believes the Saints deserve more respect outside the league. "Why they're not in the Top 25 is beyond me," Cooley said. Well, Ed, if Siena beats Butler in its Bracket Buster, it deserves consideration, but for right now, too many early losses and not enough quality wins.

• How good would Syracuse be if Jonny Flynn had stayed for one more season? The Minnesota Timberwolves point guard says we might have found out if it wasn't for the six-overtime classic Syracuse won against UConn last season. "Without that game, without that Big East tournament, I would still be in school right now," Flynn said. "That game showed scouts what I can do as an all-around player and that I can help an NBA franchise. I am really, really, really, really, really thankful for that game."

• If you're wondering why 13-8 Marquette has gotten 10 votes in the AP Poll the past two weeks, the answer is the ever-creative Jon Wilner from the San Jose Mercury News. I actually agree with Wilner that Marquette is undervalued because of the strength of its schedule and the narrow nature of its losses, though I can't say I could justify putting the Eagles at No. 16 in the poll.

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