UNLV 56, #18 Louisville 55
When you look at the lineup that Louisville throws out on the floor, you wonder how the answer to this post title could possibly be anything other than "yes." But there's just something wrong with this team. They do lack an offensive identity, since they no longer can run their offense through David Padgett. But more than that, they just don't seem to work well with each other. They don't seem to be happy on the floor, and Pitino makes it clear how unhappy he is with them. They have the talent to turn this around, but they have to find a way to beat somebody. Remember, UNLV was actually missing their best player (Wink Adams) in this game with a strain abdominal muscle. The Runnin' Rebs are now 12-2 with wins over Arizona, Nevada and Fresno State to go with this one. And both of their losses were to good teams. If the season ended now, they'd be in the Tournament. But since the Tournament doesn't start tomorrow, and because the Mountain West is not the Big East, ACC or Big Ten, their margin of error is still not that big. They need to keep rolling through their schedule, avoiding bad losses to wrap up that at-large bid. They also need to get Wink Adams back, because Rene Rougeau isn't good enough to carry this team every game.
Utah 66, #17 Gonzaga 65
Gonzaga had their chances here, but fell yet again, their fourth loss in their last five games. Obviously their defense has been weak lately, but I'm still not sure if I would pin all of this slide on that defense. Sometimes it's tough for teams that aren't used to losing to get out of a losing streak. They need to get a couple of easy wins to get back on track. Utah meanwhile collects a very important win to get back in the at-large discussion, a debate that they had somewhat fallen out of after losing five games, two of them to very weak opponents (Idaho State and Southwest Baptist). Being in a good conference means that they have a chance to earn an at-large bid even without a good out-of-conference record. In my opinion, they have got to finish at least second place in the Mountain West regular season standings to have a legitimate shot at an at-large bid.
#10 Notre Dame 92, DePaul 82
Speaking of bad defense, Notre Dame's defense has really suffered over the past few weeks. They have enough offense to avoid losses to mediocre Big East teams like DePaul, but this type of performance will not get victories over the Big East powers (Georgetown, UConn, Pitt, et cetera). Also, I've noticed that Tory Jackson seems to have disappeared over the past few weeks. Early in the year he was part of a "Big Three" with Kyle McAlarney and Luke Harangody, but he really has faded of late. Notre Dame is pretty thin, and doesn't have a lot coming off the bench, so they absolutely need big numbers out of all of their starters. Jackson needs to play better, and the team as a whole needs to play better overall defense for the Irish to get back in the Big East title picture. They have an insanely tough schedule ahead of them, and nobody would have ever expected them to win all of the games, even if they were playing their best ball. But not playing well could be the difference between having two losses in their next ten, or four losses. Remember that other than the upset over Texas, the Irish have zero wins over any team with even a remote chance at the Tournament.