Notre Dame 90, #7 Louisville 57
Obviously Notre Dame was overrated when they were ranked in the Top Ten a few months ago, but I think they've gotten to the point that they're now underrated. They had lost seven straight games, but against a truly brutal schedule. With a relatively easy schedule ahead (only two of their final seven regular season games are against teams currently ranked), the Irish can potentially win a lot of games from here on out. The RPI is still bad (64th), and the 4-9 record against the RPI Top 100 is as well, but the Sagarin PREDICTOR and Pomeroy both view the Irish as a Top 40 team that has simply had a disproportionate number of close losses. This team is still dangerous, and it's a mistake to count them out of the Tournament. That said, they've dug a hole for themselves, as they're only 4-7 in the Big East. They've probably got to get to 9-9 to have a plausible at-large scenario entering the Big East tournament, so they've got to turn this one win into a real streak. Louisville, meanwhile, just looked awful in this game. I think Rick Pitino failed to show the necessary urgency early in this game, letting his kids play through their problems rather than calling timeout and yelling at them for being lazy. I haven't seen them look this bad in a couple of months, and it's a huge missed opportunity for a team that had a real shot to take the Big East after Jerome Dyson went down with an injury. Louisville has an easy schedule remaining, but they can't lose more than one game the rest of the regular season to have a shot at a share of the Big East title.
#18 Arizona State 74, #6 UCLA 67
You've got to give Arizona State credit for pulling the season sweep of UCLA, but I wasn't at all impressed with their play. James Harden had 8 of Arizona State's 17 turnovers, and UCLA collected eight more steals than their opponents. The Sun Devils won because they always bailed themselves out with hot shooting. It's good to be a good shooting team, but you can't win consistently if you need to shoot over 60% from behind the arc to win. That said, a win is a win and Arizona State is now 8-4 in the Pac-10 with a very nice 8-5 record against the RPI Top 100. They are closing in on their first Tournament bid since 2003, and I think they'll completely wrap one up when they get to 11 wins. A 10-8 Arizona State team that loses in their first Pac-10 tournament game might get them feeling deja vu heading into Selection Sunday, so that 11th win will be important for the nerves of Arizona State fans. For UCLA, they now fall to 0-3 against the second and third best teams in the Pac-10. Their overall resume is still solid and they're still the best team in the conference, but the fact that they have not been able to beat an elite team all season is what makes me feel like this team has a lower ceiling than in past years. I just don't see them making it four straight Final Fours.
Arizona 83, USC 76
An important match-up between two Pac-10 bubble teams. It seems more and more likely that UCLA, Washington, Arizona State and Cal will all be Tournament bound, and Arizona and USC will be fighting for the fifth and final Pac-10 bid. And since USC had beaten Arizona back in January, it was essential for Arizona to hold serve in their home match-up here. Even with this win, Arizona's resume is fairly iffy. They're 7-8 against the RPI Top 100 with an RPI of 51st. Sagarin has them 44th, which means that they're right on the bubble, and they could go either way if they season ended now. Without any real marquee wins (Gonzaga and Washington are arguably marquee wins, but they're less than what many other bubble teams will be coming to the table with), Arizona has just got to win and win and win. Obviously they need to get to 20 wins, but I think they actually need to get to 21, maybe 22 wins to earn a Tournament bid. They're currently 17-8 with a 7-5 conference record. If they only finish the season 10-8 they'll need a win or two in the Pac-10 tournament. If they get to 11-7 then one Pac-10 tournament win should wrap up a bid. For USC, they are really starting to suffer from a lack of depth. Five players scored all of their points and had all but one rebound and assist in this game. The Pac-10 has a bunch of teams with very talented starting lineups and dreadfully thin benches, but even by those standards USC's performance was pretty ridiculous. At 6-5 in the Pac-10 and 6-7 against the RPI Top 100, they face a very important road game at Arizona State next. A win and they'll be in excellent shape, with a very easy schedule remaining. But a loss and they'll have to be careful to make sure to get that 10th Pac-10 win. It's hard to see a 9-9 Pac-10 team making the Tournament.