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December 10, 2007

Big weekend for Atlantic 10, Michigan State

No conference had a better weekend than the Atlantic 10, and much of it came at the expense of the Big East.

Rhode Island pulled off a 91-89 upset at Syracuse on Saturday. It was the Rams' third win over a Big East team this season. They've also beaten South Florida and Providence.

Dayton pulled a big upset the same day, going on the road to beat No. 14 Louisville 70-65.

Charlotte put together an upset of note themselves, knocking off Missouri Valley Conference favorite Southern Illinois 71-56.

Meanwhile, ACC and Big 12 teams were victims of the two other biggest upsets this past weekend. East Carolina, which has suffered losses to Richmond and Liberty, picked up a 75-69 win over an NC State team that was picked to finish third in the ACC. The Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks knocked off Oklahoma 66-62.

Marquette ended the nation's third-longest home winning streak, beating in-state rival Wisconsin, 81-76. The Badgers had won 28 consecutive games at the Kohl Center.

Team of the Weekend: Michigan State

The No. 10 Spartans had the most meaningful win of the week, erasing a 10-point halftime deficit to beat No. 22 BYU 68-61 in Salt Lake City on Saturday. The Spartans showed good balance, with four players scoring in double figures. Raymar Morgan led the way with 17 points, Drew Neitzel scored 15, and Goran Suton and Travis Walton added 12 apiece. More importantly, the victory probably will boost the Spartans' RPI since it came on a "neutral court" and the Cougars, who have already knocked off Louisville and nearly upset North Carolina, are the favorite to win the Mountain West.

Breakouts & Breakdowns

Breakout: Rhode Island guard Parfait Bitee. Bitee knocked down all four of his 3-point attempts in the Rams' upset of Syracuse. He's now shooting a stellar 58.8 percent (20-of-34) from beyond the arc. That's a remarkable jump from the 30.2 percent (29-of-96) he shot last season. Bitee combines with Jimmy Baron, who knocked down 97 3-pointers last season, to give the Rams two of the nation's top outside shooters.

What you might have missed
Kansas is fully healthy again with guard Sherron Collins returning in the Jayhawks' 84-66 rout of DePaul. Collins, who missed six games with a stress fracture in a leg, scored six points in 13 minutes.
Washington guard Justin Dentmon appeared to hit a game-winning layup at the buzzer to beat No. 9 Pittsburgh, but after officials reviewed the replays it was clear the ball was still in Dentmon's hand when time expired, giving the Panthers a 75-74 win.
Guard Ryan Appleby played his first game of the season and it looks like the 3-point specialist will give the Huskies a big boost. Appleby came off the bench against Pitt and hit 6-of-12 3-pointers. He missed the first seven games of the season with a fractured thumb on his shooting hand.
Breakout: Add Dayton's Brian Roberts to the list of the nation's top shooting guards. Louisville used a variety of defenders on Roberts, but none proved effective. The slippery senior got free for numerous jump shots and finished with a game-high 28 points in the Flyers' upset of the Cardinals. He also hit all six of his free throw attempts and added three assists.

Breakdown: Wisconsin's front court. Despite having a big size advantage, the Badgers were outrebounded by Marquette 37-29. The Golden Eagles grabbed 17 offensive boards, compared to the Badgers' 12.

Breakout: New coach Stan Heath has South Florida playing like its going to be a factor in the Big East. The Bulls, who lost their first three games, have won seven in a row, including a 68-58 win over UAB on Saturday. Freshman guard Dominique Jones is averaging 18.1 ppg during the streak.

Breakout: Indiana has more than one freshman who can carry the team if needed. With star Eric Gordon out with a bruised lower back, freshman forward Jordan Crawford got his first start and scored 20 points in the Hoosiers' 70-51 win over Kentucky. Crawford scored many of his baskets over his older brother, Kentucky wing Joe Crawford. The elder Crawford scored 10 points and was 4-for-15 from the field.

Breakdown: No team has been more disappointing than New Mexico State. The Aggies, who were expected to have a shot at an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, moved to 4-7 after a 79-78 loss to UTEP. The Aggies didn't lose their seventh game last season until Feb. 24. New coach Marvin Menzies hasn't had prize recruit Herb Pope, who may miss the whole season due to academic issues. However, four starters are back and the Aggies have the most talented roster in the WAC.

Top Performers
Mario Chalmers, Kansas
12 points, nine rebounds, seven assists, seven steals in the Jayhawks' 84-66 win over DePaul.
Chalmers has a 2.6 assist-to-turnover ratio and is averaging 3.2 steals a game.
Bill Walker, Kansas State
26 points, 10 rebounds, 14 of 16 from free throw line in the Wildcats' 82-75 win over California.
Walker carried the Wildcats' offense versus the Bears, continually attacking the basket and drawing fouls.
Jordan Hill, Arizona
23 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks in the Wildcats' 78-72 overtime win over Illinois.
The sophomore set career highs in points and rebounds while anchoring the Wildcats' defense.
Scottie Reynolds, Villanova
27 points, nine assists and six rebounds in the Wildcats' 101-93 win over Temple.
Reynolds hit 8-of-12 field goals and made all seven free throws.

Andrew Skwara is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at askwara@rivals.com.

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