Winners and losers: Irish awake

Jason King
Yahoo! Sports

For the last month, Notre Dame has been the most disappointing team in college basketball. Now we'll see if it can be the most resilient.

The Fighting Irish snapped a seven-game losing streak Thursday by pounding fifth-ranked Louisville 90-57 in South Bend. At 13-10 overall and 4-7 in Big East play, Mike Brey's squad might still have a chance – albeit an outside one – at a berth in the NCAA tournament.

"There is still a lot of basketball left to be played," Brey said.

True, but there is hardly any room for error – especially today against a South Florida squad that Notre Dame should beat handily. After that, the Fighting Irish have a pair of road games against West Virginia and Providence before returning home to face Rutgers.

Considering its experience and offensive capabilities, there's no reason Notre Dame shouldn't win all three of those games.

Then again, the Fighting Irish have lost a lot of games they should've won, including setbacks against St. John's and Cincinnati. Whether last week's win over Louisville was simply a flash in the pan remains to be seen.

Winners

Hasheem Thabeet, Blake Griffin and Jodie Meeks – If any of these three standouts aren't named first-team All-American, something is wrong. Meeks scored 45 points against Arkansas on Saturday while Griffin had 40 and 23 rebounds in a win over Texas Tech. Thabeet narrowly missed a triple double with 25 points 20 boards and nine blocks against Seton Hall.

North Carolina seniors – In one of the more miraculous feats of the past decade, Tar Heel standouts Tyler Hansbrough, Danny Green and Bobby Frasor won their fourth and final road game at Cameron Indoor Stadium on Wednesday. No ACC team had won four in a row at Duke since Tim Duncan and Wake Forest from 1993-97.

Nic Wise – Arizona's 5-foot-10 guard might have shot the Wildcats into the NCAA tournament by leading his team to victories over USC and UCLA. Wise had a team-high 27 points against the Trojans on Thursday before going off for 26 in Saturday's win over the Bruins.

Purdue – The Boilermakers won two games last week. Still, for Purdue to have any chance of defeating league leader Michigan State on Tuesday, Robbie Hummel will have to be back close to full strength.

Da'Sean Butler – Less than a week after scoring four points in a loss to Pittsburgh, the West Virginia guard erupted for 43 points during Friday's blowout of a Villanova squad that had won six straight. Somehow, Butler has flown under the radar this season despite averaging 18.3 points. He's scored in double figures in all but three games.

Mike Anderson – Even when they were winning early, it was hard not to be skeptical of Anderson's Missouri Tigers – mainly because they had let fans down so many times before. But after Monday's win over Kansas and Saturday's victory against an underrated Nebraska squad, I'm convinced that this year's team is different. Now in his third season, Anderson has finally turned around the Tigers' struggling program, and he's about to become a highly sought after coach because of it.

Wisconsin – The Badgers kept their NCAA tournament hopes alive by defeating Ohio State 55-50 Saturday night. The victory was the fourth in a row for a Wisconsin squad that was stuck in a six-game losing streak a few weeks ago. Wisconsin is now 16-9 overall and 7-6 in the Big Ten.

Tasmin Mitchell – LSU has won six straight games, behind the 6-foot-7 junior from Louisiana. Mitchell – a junior who received a medical redshirt last season – is averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds over his last four outings, including a 41-point effort in last week's victory over Mississippi State.

Tyreke Evans – Memphis has won 15 straight games since coach John Calipari moved the freshman phenom to point guard. Granted, only one of those victories has come against a decent team (Gonzaga). Still, Evans has clearly made a difference at point guard. In his past three games he's averaging 20.3 points.

Herb Sendek – Arizona State's coach has done a fabulous job of resurrecting a program that has won just 12 NCAA tournament games in its history and that hasn't won a Pac-10 title since 1979. The Sun Devils are in contention after defeating league-leader UCLA on Thursday.

Losers

Florida – Talk about a bad week. After losing 68-65 at Kentucky on a Jodie Meeks 3-pointer in the final seconds, the Bulldogs suffered an 88-86 setback against Georgia in Athens on Saturday. The victory was the first SEC win for the Bulldogs, who have already fired their coach and appeared to be headed for a winless conference season.

St. Mary's-Gonzaga officials – It had to have been the worst non-call of the season. With St. Mary's trailing by four in the waning seconds against Gonzaga on Thursday, Gaels guard Carlin Hughes banked in a 3-pointer with 9.9 seconds remaining. A Gonzaga player flew into Hughes as he released the ball and nearly knocked him over, but the officials swallowed their whistles, and Hughes never got a chance to tie the game with a four-point play. The crowd, the coaches, the players – and even television announcers – were dismayed. St. Mary's ended up losing 72-70.

Utah State – The No. 21 Aggies saw their 19-game win streak come to an end Saturday night at Boise State.

Jerome Dyson – The knee injury that will sideline Connecticut's second-leading scorer for the remainder of the season could be a huge blow to the No. 1 Huskies, who will have to find a way to replace his 13.2 points and 3.2 assists per game. Look for freshman Kemba Walker and senior Craig Austrie to fill the void.

Georgetown – Saturday's overtime loss at Syracuse was the seventh setback in the past eight games for the Hoyas. After playing at South Florida on Wednesday, Georgetown has home matchups with No. 10 Marquette and No. 5 Louisville.

Ernie Kent – Tough to fathom that a coach who once led his team to the Elite Eight could be on the verge of a winless Pac-10 season. The Ducks' best chance for a victory is probably its March 1 home game against rival Oregon State. Five of Oregon's 12 conference losses have come by 10 points or less.

Xavier – If the regular season ended tomorrow, the Musketeers wouldn't be the outright Atlantic 10 champion. Xavier and Dayton are both 8-2, but the Flyers beat Sean Miller's squad in the only head-to-head meeting between the teams on Wednesday. The loss was the first of two last week for Xavier.

UCLA – With losses to Arizona State and Arizona, UCLA was swept in the desert for the first time since 2005. The Bruins – who have played in the past three Final Fours – have dropped two straight games for the first time this season. This weekend's homestand against Washington and Washington State has suddenly become huge.

Earl Clark – NBA scouts are projecting the Louisville forward as a lottery pick in this summer's NBA draft, but this is a classic case of a kid who needs another year – or two – of college. Clark is averaging just eight points in his past four games and continues to settle for outside shots when he should be scoring more inside. He has loads of potential, but he won't reach it sitting on the bench in the NBA.

Texas A&M – How quickly the Aggies have fallen. It was just two years ago, in Billy Gillispie's final season, that Texas A&M went 13-3 in Big 12 play and came within a point of advancing to the Elite Eight. Now, under Mark Turgeon, the Aggies are mired in a three-game losing streak following Saturday's loss at Baylor, which dropped them to 3-7 in conference play.

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