Stephen Vilardo’s Week 15 SuperWest Games to Watch

A few of the games on the docket this week start to have serious NCAA tournament implications

Posted on February 15, 2023

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

As the regular season turns to the final three weeks, games start to have serious NCAA tournament implications and we have a few of them on the docket this week.

Not sure we have any huge marquee matchups ahead of us this week, but we definitely have some on the horizon.

This week we do see a lot of meaningful games with plenty to play for.

Boise State at Colorado State

Wednesday, February 15
7:00 pm PT, FS1

Boise State cannot afford to drop either of their games this week, beginning with this one in Fort Collins and hosting UNLV on Sunday.

The Broncos hang their hat on the defensive end of the floor where they are limiting opponents to 40.4% from the floor and just 61.2 points per game.

Boise State’s defense is seventh in the nation with a rate of 28.0% against them.

Colorado State is 10th in the nation in shooting percentage at 56.1% from the floor. Patrick Cartier is sixth in the nation with an MWC-leading 66.1% rate from the field.

Boise State has held 12 teams below 60 points this season, including the Rams in the first meeting. Colorado State will work the ball for the open shot and rank ninth in the nation with an assist rate of 63.2%.

Boise State is limiting opponents to an assist rate of 42.4%, 21st in the nation.

This is one the Broncos should win, but if CSU can dictate the game on their home court it could be a tight one.

Oregon at WashingtonWashington football pac-12

Wednesday, February 15
8:00 pm PT, ESPNU

This is the second-most played rivalry in college basketball as Washington and Oregon will meet on the hardwood for the 313th time.

The Ducks are winners of six of their last nine games while the Huskies have lost four in a row and five of their last six.

In the series, Oregon has won 12 of the last 14 meetings and six of the last seven games played in Seattle.

The last meeting between the rivals went the way of the Purple and Gold and UW will look to win consecutive games in the series for the first time since 2011.

Do not expect easy buckets in this one.

Washington is 12th in the nation with a Pac-12-leading 5.3 blocked shots per game. The Huskies are blocking 8.6% of opponents’ shots, the 21st-best rate in the nation.

Oregon has a blocked shot rate that is even better at 8.8%, ranking 14th in the nation.

The Ducks are playing their way into the NCAA conversation. Washington would certainly like nothing more than to end that conversation and their losing streak with a win.

No. 21 San Diego State at Fresno State

Wednesday, February 15
8:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

San Diego State has won 13 of their last 15 games overall, while the Bulldogs are 9-15 overall and in seventh place in the MW.

Fresno State is showing some signs though, going 2-1 in their last three games and playing well at Nevada last time out.

The Aztecs are 8-1 in their last nine true road games.

In the series, the Aztecs have taken seven in a row. In fact, against their two fellow conference schools from California, the Aztecs have won a combined 12 in a row and 18 of 21 since 2017-18.

The Aztecs are turning the ball over on just 17.4% of their possessions but were forced into a turnover 29.2% of the time against UNLV.

The Aztecs have always been known for being tough on the defensive side of the ball and are allowing just 66.1 points per game this season.

The Bulldogs have also been stingy on defense as they are allowing just 65.8.

Santa Clara at BYU

Thursday, February 16
6:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

Santa Clara and BYU are among a quartet in the WCC within a game and a half of each other in the battle for third place.

The teams are also trending in the opposite directions with the Broncos winning three in a row and the Cougars dropping their last two.

The first meeting between these two was an 83-76 win for Santa Clara at home. The rebounds in that game ended up even at 33, and that is not surprising when looking that these two.

The Cougars are 16th in the nation with a total rebound rate of 54.15 while the Broncos are 29th at 54.5%. Look for a similar battle in this one.

When playing in Provo, BYU’s rebound rate jumps to 55.3%, Santa Clara actually rebounds the ball better on the road this season.

The Broncos see their rate jump to 55.5% on the road from 52.3% at home.

California at USCusc logo

Thursday, February 16
8:00 pm PT, FS1

This is a game USC should win and it is a game the Trojans need to win. Following the losses at Oregon and OSU last week, USC cannot afford another misstep this week.

A bright spot for the Trojans in the game with the Beavers last week was the play of Vince Iwuchukwu as the freshman finished the day with career highs in points and rebounds going for 19 and seven.

The Trojans are currently 11th in the nation with a blocked shot rate of 9.1%, the best mark in the Pac-12. California has had 7.5% of their own shots blocked this season, 346th in the nation.

When these squads first met in November in Berkeley the Trojans blocked 12.3% of the Bears’ shot attempts.

Joshua Morgan ended up with seven blocked shots on his own. Morgan is 36th in the country with .912 blocked shots per foul committed.

Utah at No. 8 ArizonaArizona football Pac-12

Thursday, February 16
7:00 pm PT, Pac-12

Arizona is coming off a loss to Stanford and has to have revenge on their minds after losing earlier this season in Salt Lake City.

For Utah, a sweep of the Arizona schools could get them off the bubble and back in the mix for an NCAA bid.

In the loss to Stanford, Arizona had issues on the inside. That certainly was not the case the first time these two met. The paint points were 42-40 in favor of Arizona, three-point shooting is what made the game.

The Wildcats shot 14.3% from deep connecting on just 4 of 28. The Cats shot 48.8% on two-pointers in that game. In that game, Courtney Ramey hit three of Arizona’s four triples.

He is coming off his best outing of the season as he knocked down eight three-pointers against Stanford en route to a 26-point performance.

The Utes have won their last two games allowing an average of 54.0 in the wins.

Utah is eighth against the three this season as opponents are shooting just 28.2% and in the last two wins, and they have defended the three at a rate of 22.9%.

Stanford at No. 4 UCLA

Thursday, February 16
8:00 pm PT, ESPN2

UCLA has won four in a row and enters this game with a 21-game winning streak inside Pauley Pavilion, the longest of its kind in the nation.

The Bruins find themselves with a two-game lead in the loss column over Arizona, thanks in large part to their opponent in this one.

This is not the same Stanford team that the Bruins met on the first day of December and raced out to a 17-0 lead in the first five minutes of action.

The Cardinal are 6-2 in their last eight games and have averaged 72.3 points per game in those games. In the first 17 games of the season, the Cardinal scored 67.8 points per outing.

The Bruins, however, will not be an easy team to score against. They are seventh in the nation allowing just 59.8 points per game.

Since the calendar changed to February, they have been even stouter on defense allowing just 55.8 points in four games this month.

UCLA leads the nation with an average of 9.5 more scoring chances per game than its opponent, Stanford is at 2.2 this season to rank 81st.

No. 13 Gonzaga at Loyola Marymount

Thursday, February 16
8:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

Loyola Marymount snapped a 25-game losing streak to Gonzaga earlier this season and will try to sweep the season series from the Zags for the first time since the 1990-91 season.

That win in January not only broke the losing streak for the Lions, but it was the first time the margin has been single digits in the last 21 meetings, since 2012.

Gonzaga has won 13 in a row over LMU in Los Angeles with the average margin coming by 19.2 points per game.

Cam Shelton has done it all for the Lions in the last two games averaging 33.5 points, 3.5 assists, and 2.0 steals while playing 83 of 85 minutes in a pair of wins last week.

In the win in Spokane, he scored 27 with nine rebounds and two assists while playing 39 minutes that night.

LMU will need another huge game from him and some more help if they are to complete the sweep.

Gonzaga is leading the NCAA with 86.3 points per game and has exploded for 93.5 points per game in their last two.

Utah at Arizona State

Saturday, February 18
3:00 pm PT, Pac-12

Depending on how the openers go mid-week for these teams, this one could be a must win for both. It actually may be a must win for both even if they both get a win earlier.

Arizona State is reeling, having lost five of their last eight, but did pick up a pair of wins in Northern California last week.

The Utes started the season hot before cooling but have won their last two games.

Both teams have been solid defensively all season and it paved the way in the last two wins. Utah has allowed just 54.0 points in their last two while the Sun Devils have allowed just 63.5 in the two most recent wins.

ASU is blocking 8.6% of opposing shots this season, the 21st-best rate in the nation.

Nevada at Utah State

Saturday, February 18
5:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

This is another big game with not only Mountain West implications but NCAA Tournament ramifications.

The Aggies find themselves nearing if not on the NCAA bubble while Wolf Pack are looking to solidify things.

Nevada has played their way off the bubble for the time being with four straight wins and five of their last six.

Utah State needs to score points. If they get to the upper 70s, they are in decent shape. USU is 12-0 this season when scoring at least 77. In their last two, they have averaged just 62.5.

The way these teams go about scoring their points is a little different. The common theme is that neither will get a ton of points off-field goals from inside the three-point stripe.

Utah State is scoring 43.9% of their points off two-pointers, 343rd in the nation. Nevada is getting just 46.9% of their scoring from 2’s, ranking 295th.

The Aggies are getting 36.3% of their points from three-point baskets, 42nd in the nation, while the Pack are scoring a higher rate of points at the foul line, 23.9%, the sixth most in America.

BYU at No. 17 Saint Mary’s

Saturday, February 18
7:00 pm PT, ESPN2

We talked earlier about the log jam facing BYU in spots three-six in the WCC, for Saint Mary’s, this is a test they need to pass to keep the title hopes alive.

If the Gaels hope to play for the crown in Spokane, then they need to take care of business against a tough Cougars team.

Again, BYU will control the glass better than most teams in the nation, one team they trail in rebounding is Saint Mary’s.

SMC enters the week second in the nation in total rebound rate at 56.4%, trailing only Purdue on the national stage.

In the last three games, the Gaels have collected 58.2% of the boards on offer. In games played in Moraga, the Gaels have a total rebound rate of 59.3%.

BYU is at 54.1% on the season and slips to 52.7%.

Saint Mary’s is averaging 6.0 more scoring chances per game than their opponent, the sixth most in the nation.

—More from Stephen Vilardo—