Stephen Vilardo’s Week 11 SuperWest Hoops Games to Watch

The Mountain West continues to be deep and big games seem to turn up each week

Posted on January 19, 2023

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

We have teams and players on streaks—both good and bad—on the line this week.

In the desert this week, UCLA has a chance to take complete control of things in the Pac-12, ASU gets a chance to make a few statements at home, and Arizona gets to prove they are not done yet.

The WCC has the two clear favorites at the top, but we may get a clearer picture of who is the third-best team in the league. The Mountain West continues to be deep and big games seem to turn up each week.

Here is a peek at some of the games I’m looking forward to this week.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12Oregon at California

Wednesday, January 18
7:00 pm PT, Pac-12

I wanted to highlight this game not so much for the matchup as for what we will see out of Oregon. The Ducks are coming off a huge win over Arizona and I am curious to see where they are at.

Was it a case of Arizona always losing to Oregon, or have the Ducks turned the corner? Either way, Oregon played a complete game to pick up the win.

Jermaine Couisnard is back and looks to have found his form.

The Bears are just 3-15 on the season, but all three wins have been in their last four home games. California has distributed the ball better in their last seven games with the assist number jumping by 3.8 per game to 12.7.

Cal has limited opponents to 29.4% on threes in the last 10 games. Kel’el Ware is 11th in the nation with 1.48 blocked shots per foul committed.

Oregon is 9-1 in the last 10 vs Cal and has won four in a row in Berkeley.

Loyola Marymount at No. 6 Gonzaga

Thursday, January 19
6:00 pm PT, WCC Network

Gonzaga has not lost to Loyola Marymount at home since 1991, 29-straight over the Lions in Spokane. Overall, the Zags have won the last 25 games played between the teams.

Gonzaga will also look to extend their home winning streak to 76 games.

This season Gonzaga is shooting 60.5% on non-blocked two-point field goals, 26th in the nation. LMU is allowing opponents to shoot 55.0% on non-blocked twos, 178th.

San Francisco took Gonzaga to the wire a few games back, the thing Loyola-Marymount and the Dons have in common is scoring off three-pointers.

LMU gets 36.8% of them from three-point shots, 43rd most in the nation. The Zags rank 234th in the nation with 32.1% of opponents’ points coming from deep.

To pull off this upset the Lions will have to shoot a little better than their 35.8% from deep, but the recipe is there.

BYU at Santa Clara

Thursday, January 19
8:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

This is a big game in the WCC as the winner of this one will have the inside track at third place. Santa Clara is coming off their highest-scoring game of the season in a 92-81 win over Pacific.

Not only did the Broncos put up their best offensive number of the season, but they did also it without leading scorer Brandin Podziemski and against a Tiger squad that had only allowed 80+ points once since Thanksgiving.

The availability of Podziemski could be key in this game, although Herb Sendek has found another option in Keshawn Justice, who scored 26 as the head coach got his 525th win against Pacific.

The Cougars also topped the 90-point mark their last time out. In their win over Pepperdine, BYU went 25-32 from the foul stripe. The 25 points off FT’s nearly doubled their season average in foul shots made per game.

The Cougs are getting 18.7% of their points from FTs this season, against the Wave that figure was 27.5%. Santa Clara only fouls on 20.9% of possessions so the FT numbers could be more difficult to come by in this one.

This could come down to a battle of the boards, both teams are in the top 13 nationally in total rebound rate with BYU 10th at 55.1% and SC a3th at 54.9%.

BYU allows opponents to grab just 20% of offensive rebounds on offer, the seventh best defensive rebound rate in the country while Santa Clara gives up an offensive board 22.7% of the time.

Washington State at Utah

Thursday, January 19
6:00 pm PT, Pac-12

This is a matchup of a pair of teams going in deferent directions.

Utah has lost their last three games after opening Pac-12 play 5-0. During the three-game losing streak the Utes have averaged just 55.0 points per game and were limited to 52.5 while being swept in Los Angeles.

The defense continues to be a strength for Utah as they rank seventh in the nation in field goal defense at 37.7% while limiting opponents to 62.3 points per game on the season.

The Utes are one of nine schools nationally that have not allowed an opponent to score 80 points this season.

While the Utes are suffering through a skid, the Cougars find themselves on the winning side of their last three games. Again, it is defense that is getting it done. WSU has allowed just 57 points per game during the win streak.

On the offensive side for the Cougars DJ Rodman has stepped up with 15.2 points per game in the last six games after only going for 4.6 in his first 12 games of the season. Andre Jakimovski found his touch against Stanford as he went for 17 while making five three-pointers.

Utah is blocking 7.9% of opponents’ shots this season, during the last three games that figure has dipped to 3.4%.

Washington State averages 8.9 made threes per game, the most in the Pac-12 and the full return of Jakimovski will only improve those shooting fortunes.

The three-ball could negate the Utah advantage inside.

For Utah this is a big game, and for that matter, a big weekend if they want to remain in the upper half of the conference. For the Cougars this is a chance to continue to build momentum.

Oregon State at Stanford

Thursday, January 19
8:00 pm PT, Pac-12

I like numbers, stats, streaks, and odd notes. Well, I am looking forward to this one because of the number 17.

Oregon State has lost 17 straight road games, the seventh-longest active streak in the nation. The only power conference team with a longer streak is Georgetown at 18.

I think the Beavers will win at least one on this road trip if not pull off the sweep. The Beavers have lost their last five games played and are 0-5 in road games this season.

Most of their scoring in the last two games doesn’t know much about most of those 17 losses. 99 of the 143 points scored by OSU last week came via freshmen—69.2% of their production.

Stanford also enters this one on a five-game losing streak and the Cardinal are winless in seven Pac-12 games this season. In fact, the Cardinal have lost their last eight Pac-12 games dating to last season, the 10th longest streak in the country.

For both teams the defensive splits in wins vs losses are staggering. Stanford has allowed 56.6 points per game in their five wins compared to 72 points in the 12 losses.

Oregon State has held opponents to 58.6 points per game in their seven wins and 76.6 in the 11 losses.

Boise State at New Mexico

Friday, January 20
8:00 pm PT, FS1

The Broncos did battle with Nevada for first place in the Mountain West on Tuesday night. This is another pivotal matchup in the standings.

Boise State has yet to allow a team to reach 80 points this season. Included in that was limiting a Utah State team that averages over 81 points per game to just 59.

The Broncos have also been getting it done offensively of late averaging 82.0 per game on offense in their last four games.

New Mexico is a team that has reached the 90-point mark four times this season with three players averaging over 15 points per outing. Jamal Mashburn (18.2), Jalen House (17.3), and Morris Udeze (15.7).

That three-headed monster can challenge any defense, even one as efficient as BSU’s. Mashburn leads the conference in scoring and has reached double figures in 40 consecutive games.

The Lobos are seventh nationally with 17.9 made FTs per game, and 21.9% of their points have come from the charity stripe. Boise State is fouling on 24.0% of possessions and seeing 17.6% of the points scored against them on FTs.

No. 5 UCLA at No. 11 ArizonaArizona football Pac-12

Saturday, January 21
11:00 am PT, ABC

This is the marquee matchup of the weekend with a national TV audience ahead of the NFL playoff schedule. Or is it still the marquee matchup?

Possibly, the UCLA at ASU game could be more significant in the standings. I’ll stick with this one being the big one (although I really like all four of these LA vs the Desert games this week).

UCLA and Arizona have the rivalry factor. This is the fourth straight meeting between the teams that each have been ranked in the Top 15. This one feels a little different though.

The Wildcats need a win, the Bruins can put the nail in the coffin for Arizona’s Pac-12 regular season chances.

The UCLA defense has been solid all season allowing just 59.8 points per game, but they have really turned it up a notch recently allowing just 53.7 points in the last three games.

UCLA is getting an average of 9.9 more scoring chances per game than opponents, the second most in the nation, and again over the last three games it has been even better with that figure rising to +13.7.

It’s not hard to win when you’re getting almost 14 more scoring chances than your opponent.

The Wildcats are second in the nation in scoring at 84.8 points per game but just 70.8 per game in the last five.

This one could hinge on turnovers. UCLA is forcing a turnover on 24.2% of possessions, eighth in the nation. Arizona is 180th in the nation with a turnover on 18.4% of their offensive sets.

The Bruins enter the week with a 13-game winning streak, the third longest in the nation, and depending upon the outcome in Tempe, they could enter this one riding a 14-game streak.

Pepperdine at Portland

Saturday, January 21
3:00 pm PT, Root Sports NW/NBC Sports Bay Area

We’ll call this the bonus matchup for the week. I won’t get into a great deal of detail with this one.

The Waves have lost 12 straight WCC games, the fifth longest active conference losing streak in the nation. By the time this one tips off it should be at 13 unless they pull off the upset over Saint Mary’s.

Pepperdine is also one of the teams with a longer road losing streak than Oregon State, as they have lost their last 20 on the road, the fourth-longest run in the country.

The Pilots are seventh in the nation with .449 free throw attempts per field goal attempt. I like streaks.

Santa Clara at Saint Mary’s

Saturday, January 21
5:00 pm PT, NBC Sports Bay Area

Santa Clara gave Gonzaga a scare when the Zags came to Santa Clara. Can the Broncos go on the road and get the best of Saint Mary’s?

The rebounding battle will be one to watch in this contest. The Gaels enter the week fourth in the nation in total rebound rate at 56.1% while the Broncos are 13th at 54.9%.

The Gaels enter the week riding a seven-game win streak which is the ninth longest in the nation. The 57.8 points that SMC is allowing is the sixth-best mark in the country.

Offensively the Gaels have averaged 79.2 points per game over the last six. The disparity has led to the 13th-best scoring margin in the nation this season at +14.0.

Points will be at a premium for the Broncos and the availability of Brandin Podziemski will be huge.

The Broncos will make the Gaels work for their points, Santa Clara opponents are shooting just .233 FTs per FG attempt, the 21st-best ratio in the nation.

Saint Mary’s is fifth in the nation with a non-blocked two-point defense rate of 48.4%.

BYU at San Francisco

Saturday, January 21
5:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

I am eager to see how this one plays out. BYU has looked good lately.

San Francisco seems like they may be the best 1-5 conference team in the nation or maybe I have just bought into them too much this season.

Either way, the Dons must start winning some games. For BYU this looks like it could be a conference road game the Cougars could take.

USF is getting 40.9% of their points from three-point field goals, the seventh-highest rate in the nation. For BYU, 31.4% of the points scored against them have come from beyond the arc.

That could play into the Dons’ favor at home, but the problem when you rely on the three is that an off night can be costly.

BYU pulls down 80% of their defensive rebound opportunities so the Dons will not get a lot of second-chance opportunities.

San Diego State at Air Force

Saturday, January 21
7:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

This is the first time I have featured Air Force this season, but the Falcons are quietly putting together a nice season.

It definitely speaks to the quality and depth of the Mountain West Conference.

Air Force is riding their first three-game conference win streak since 2019. The Falcons have already surpassed their win total from last season and the nine nonconference wins are the most for the program since 2006-07.

Air Force is fourth in the nation with an assist rate of 67.1%, San Diego State is limiting opponents to an assist rate of 42.7%, 20th in the nation.

It will be a tall task for the Falcons to extend the conference streak to four games. The Aztecs have won 16 of the last 18 in the series and each of the last seven meetings.

The Falcons are getting just 44.7% of their points from two-point field goals, which ranks 325th in the nation, and 37.1% of their points have come from three’s 37th highest rate.

The Aztecs are defending the three at a rate of 30.4% this season, 46th-best in the nation.

Air Force is seventh in the nation in three-point defense at 27.7%. San Diego State is 14-2 in their last 16 conference games and has come out on top in 26 of their last 33 Mountain West road games.

USC at Arizona State

Saturday, January 21
7:00 pm PT, ESPNU

Arizona State enters the week having won 13 of their last 15 and four in a row. USC enters the week 9-2 in their last eleven games.

Both teams have tough games to start the week with the Sun Devils hosting UCLA and USC visiting Tucson. Depending upon how those games play out this one could take on even more meaning.

USC is holding its opponents to a 38.0 shooting percentage this season, tenth in the country. The Trojans have kept 11 opponents to under 40% from the field this season.

Both the Trojans and the Sun Devils will protect the rim, USC is 11th in the nation with a blocked shot rate of 9.7% this season while ASU is 22nd at 8.8%.

Individually, Drew Peterson enters the week one of just two players in the nation averaging at least 13.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game this season.

Desmond Cambridge earned Pac-12 player of the week honors after averaging 21.0 points per game on 53% shooting against the Oregon schools last week.

The home team is 32-11 in the last 43 on campus meetings between the teams.

New Mexico at Nevada

Monday, January 23
6:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

Another pivotal MW matchup at the top of the standings. The Wolf Pack have won the last seven in the series and have not lost to UNM in Reno since March 2016.

Nevada’s offensive rebound rate is 21.6%, ranking 314th in the nation. The Lobos are 65th in the nation with a defensive rebound rate of 76.6%.

Both teams will get to the free throw line and score points off the free ones.

Nevada is scoring 24.3% of their points this year off FTs, sixth most in the nation while New Mexico is scoring 21.9% of their points at the line, 25th in the country.

Nevada is scoring just 45.2% of their points off two-point baskets this year, 317th in the nation. The Lobos are scoring 56.3% of their points on FGs from inside the arc.

Nevada is only turning the ball over on 15.2% of possessions this season, the 21st-best mark in the nation.

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