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Stephen Vilardo’s Week 12 SuperWest Games to Watch

A look at the best men's hoops games in the Pac-12, Mountain West, and WCC conferences

Posted on January 25, 2023

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

A little lighter week for the final full week of January.

The Pac-12 sees single conference games for the California schools as the travel partners are matched up. Only two Thursday WCC games to choose from as well this week.

We will get started in a hurry, though, with Utah State and San Diego State in what could be the second-best game on our schedule this week.

Perhaps getting a run for that title from our second game, the crosstown rivalry bringing UCLA to the Galen Center.

For the marquee game, I think we must wait until the very end of the week when Nevada welcomes the Aztecs to Reno.

Utah State at San Diego State

Wednesday, January 25
8:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

Another big one in the Mountain West to open our week. Contrasting styles will be on display at Viejas Arena.

The Aggies are bringing the offense and the Aztecs are supplying the defense. Utah State is averaging 83.6 points, 18.8 assists and shooting 51.5% from the floor in their 16 wins this season.

In the losses, they drop to 68.6 points, 12.8 assists, and 39.3% from the floor.

This season SDSU is limiting opponents to an assist rate of 45.2% while forcing a turnover on 20.6% of possessions.

The Aggies also start their offense with defense in wins, owning 5.1 steals per game in the wins vs 3.3 in the losses.

San Diego State is 27th in the nation in adjusted defense.

Utah State is just 1-8 all-time vs the Aztecs in San Diego, but the Aggies have claimed four of the last six meetings overall.

No. 8 UCLA at USCusc logo

Thursday, January 26
6:00 pm PT, ESPN2

The Bruins have not collected a win at the Galen Center since 2018.

Despite dropping the game in Tucson, UCLA is still 14-1 in their last 15 games and has held each of those 15 opponents to under 70 points.

The Bruins are second in the nation with an average of 10.1 more scoring chances per game than their opponents, USC is –2.2 in the same category ranking 279th.

Turnovers play a big part in the ranks for both teams. UCLA is 14th nationally with a turnover rate of 14.3% while USC is 243rd at 19.1%.

Defensively the Bruins are forcing a turnover on 24.5% of possessions, the eighth-best mark in the nation, while the Trojans are 146th at 18.7%.

USC will protect the rim inside as the Trojans are 13th with a blocked shot rate of 9.3%.

The Bruins own a two-game lead in the Pac-12 standings, and USC is one of the teams sitting with two more losses.

This is a chance for USC to even the score and make it a race while UCLA, for the third straight game, has another chance to put distance on a rival.

Arizona football Pac-12No. 6 Arizona at Washington State

Thursday, January 26
8:00 pm PT, FS1

Arizona’s most perplexing game this season is the loss at home to Washington State. The teams will meet again in Pullman for the rematch.

In the first one, the Cougars shot 42.9% on three-pointers for the game while Arizona connected on just 4-of-25 for 16.0%. The second chance points were +10 in favor of the Wildcats, and points at the foul line went +5 for Arizona.

The difference was the percentages which allowed WSU to be +8 on three-pointers and Arizona missed 11 free throws while WSU only failed on two, Arizona left nine free points off the board, seven more than the Cougars in a 13-point loss.

WSU scores 37.8% of their points off threes, the 26th most in the nation while Arizona 33.7% of the points Arizona is allowing comes from threes—267th in the nation.

The Cats’ defense is solid against twos as opponents are just over 50% on non-blocked two-pointers. If the Cougars are to pull off the upset again it will be through the three-ball.

Arizona State at WashingtonWashington football pac-12

Thursday, January 26
8:00 pm PT, ESPNU

This is a huge week for the Sun Devils. They need a strong finish to the season to get an NCAA Tournament bid and a good week in the Pacific Northwest would go a long way to solidifying things.

The Sun Devils have a chance to sweep the Washington road trip for the first time since 2003.

Washington is 7-3 against ASU in Seattle since 2009. The Huskies lead the Pac-12 and are ninth in the nation with a blocked shot rate of 9.6% this season.

Arizona State has gotten 5.6% of its shots blocked this season, ranking 181st in the nation.

The Huskies see opponents get an average of 4.4 more scoring chances per game than UW is, 339th in the nation.

Colorado State at Boise State

Saturday, January 28
5:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

Colorado State sits with a sub-.500 record overall and just two conference wins but can be a scary opponent.

The Rams have held their last three opponents to just 41.4% from the field.

Boise State is one of the best defensive teams in the nation, having allowed an opponent to reach 80 points only once all season, the overtime loss to New Mexico.

BSU has the ninth-best adjusted defense rank in the nation and is allowing just 62.0 points per game, with just 31.7 coming after halftime. The 14th-best second-half scoring defense in the nation.

The Broncos’ 6.2 average scoring margin in the second half is the 14th best in the country and the best of any Mountain West team. The Broncos enter this one having won nine in a row at ExtraMile Arena.

Utah at OregonOregon Ducks Logo Pac-12

Saturday, January 28
5:00 pm PT, Pac-12

The Utes head to Oregon having re-found their winning ways following a three-game losing streak. The Ducks look to get things right again following a seven-point loss at Stanford.

Each of these teams has a Thursday game ahead of this one with Utah at OSU and Oregon hosting Colorado. This is going to be a show-me game.

Both teams must feel this is winnable, and both teams should enter with wins in the opposite game on Thursday (The Ducks may not be able to win in Boulder—1-11 all-time but own a 9-3 mark over the Buffs in Eugene).

One of these teams needs to show they are for real. Oregon can’t afford a home loss here and Utah has the chance to steal one on the road.

Utah limits opponents to 37.4% from the floor, fifth best in the nation. Oregon has shot 50% from the floor in their last three games but struggled at Stanford shooting just 37.9% in the loss.

Branden Carlson enters the week having scored 24.6 points in the last three games as the seven-footer connected on seven of 11 threes in those outings.

No. 22 Saint Mary’s at BYU

Saturday, January 28
7:00 pm PT, ESPN2

Saint Mary’s has won nine straight games, the fifth-longest active streak in the nation entering the week.

The Cougars have won the last three meetings in Provo and BYU has taken 12 of 17 all-time meetings with SMC on their home floor.

The Gaels’ defense continued to be the story this season, last time out they outscored Santa Clara 24-4 on points off turnovers.

The Gaels are limiting opponents to 56.9 points per game, the fourth-best mark in the nation.

The Cougars are coming off a pair of losses last week and have lost three of their last four games.

BYU did find some offense last week in Rudi Williams who has averaged 27.0 points per game in his last two games after averaging just 6.0 points per game in his first six WCC games this season.

Aidan Mahaney is averaging 15.0 points per game for Saint Mary’s, the fifth-highest-scoring freshman in the nation.

In home games against ranked opponents under Mark Pope, BYU is averaging 73.3 points per game while shooting 43.8 percent from the field.

They will certainly need those types of numbers if they hope to get the upset in this one.

Nevada at UNLV

Saturday, January 28
7:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

UNLV will try to force turnovers and has been particularly good at it this season, with a turnover-forced rate of 26.7%, the second-best in the nation this season.

Nevada does an excellent job of keeping possession. The Wolf Pack are turning it over on just 15.2% of their possessions, the 24th-best rate in the nation.

In the double overtime win over UNM, the Pack’s turnover rate was just 10.1%.

A key to this one will be if the Rebels can be aggressive without fouling. Despite creating havoc, UNLV has not given up a lot of points at the stripe this season with just 15.1% of opponents scoring coming off freebies.

Nevada is eighth in the nation with 23.6% of their points coming from the FT line.

UNLV is getting an average of 6.4 more scoring chances per game than opponents and is at 10.3 in its last three.

Nevada is around 1.6 on the season but created 14 more opportunities for themselves than New Mexico did on Monday night.

Cal at Stanford

Saturday, January 28
7:00 pm PT, ESPNU

Cal erupted for 92 points in their 22-point win over Stanford a few weeks ago. The 92-points in that game were just 11 fewer than Cal scored in both meetings with Stanford last season.

The Bears will look to sweep the regular season series from the Cardinal for the first time since 2010. To do so they will need to win inside of Maples Pavilion for just the sixth time in their last 25 trips.

Both teams are struggling this season. I do not think much was expected in the preseason from Cal, but Stanford had higher expectations.

The Cardinal enter on a high note with the win last week over an Oregon team that looked to be finding something and should dispatch Chicago State with ease on Wednesday night—if not then Stanford has a ton of problems.

Stanford should enter the rivalry riding a three-game win streak.

Both Stanford and Cal have struggled with turnovers this season, the Cardinal have a turnover rate of 19.5% while the Bears are turning it over on 20.3% of possessions—both teams hovering around the 300 mark nationally.

In the first meeting, they both gave it away ten times, but the Bears turned it into 18 points while Stanford did less with them, getting just 10 points off TOs. I’d look for the turnover battle to decide this one again.

Pepperdine at Loyola Marymount

Saturday, January 28
8:00 pm PT, Bally Sports So Cal

Loyola Marymount will have to handle the accolades that go along with being named the National Team of the Week. Portland will play a visit to LA prior to this one.

Pepperdine has an eight-game losing streak heading into the week, the seventh-longest streak in the nation. That streak could go by the wayside Thursday against San Diego in Malibu.

The Waves lost by just three to the Toreros on the road earlier this season.

Regardless of the result Thursday, Pepperdine will enter this one having lost their last 21 road games, the second-longest streak in the nation.

Depending on their result on Thursday the Waves may also enter this game having lost their last 15 WCC games, the third-longest conference losing streak in the nation.

Loyola Marymount saw a few massive streaks fall last week at Gonzaga. The Lions will want to see them continue this week.

Last week I mentioned that I liked streaks and trends…this one falls into that category.

But I am also eager to see how the Lions can perform following the road win against the Zags, especially in a game they should be able to win with ease.

San Diego State at Nevada

Tuesday, January 31
8:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

The Aztecs will enter this game with a seven-game win streak in road games, the third-longest streak in the country.

Nevada has won their last ten games inside the Lawlor Events Center.

This one is at the end of our week and a lot can happen between now and then. Each of these teams has big games ahead of this one with the Aztecs hosting Utah State and Nevada heading to Vegas for UNLV.

But both teams have a chance to be sitting with seven conference wins entering the matchup. This one looks like it could give the winner an inside track on the regular season race.

Follow Stephen on Twitter @StephenVilardo and his organization @SERCenter.

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