Stephen Vilardo’s Week 16 SuperWest Hoops Games to Watch

The Mountain West could be decided on Feb. 28th with SDSU and BSU squaring off in Boise

Posted on February 22, 2023

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

This week we should see one conference title decided in Spokane on Saturday.

The Mountain West could also be decided in Boise with the Aztecs and Broncos squaring off. Those two have a busy week prior to their tip-off and then another game to follow, so we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves.

We also see some rivalry games on the schedule in the coming days with just two weeks of the regular season to go.

Here are some games to keep an eye on this week.

New Mexico at Boise State

Wednesday, February 22
7:30 pm PT, FS1

The Lobos have lost four of their last five games while the Broncos enter this one having won three in a row and 12 straight at ExtraMile Arena.

New Mexico has already snapped a pair of long home-win streaks this season, having ended Saint Mary’s 23-gamer and San Diego State’s 16-game run.

The current form in which the teams enter this one is not the only contrast in the matchup.

New Mexico is 14th in the nation and leads the Mountain West with 80.3 points per game. Boise State enters with the best scoring defense in the conference and 18th in the nation allowing just 62.5 per outing.

The first time these teams met, it was the Lobos getting the 81-79 overtime win in Albuquerque.

That is the only game this season the Broncos have allowed an opponent to reach 80 points in a game, and the game had to be extended five minutes for UNM to get to 80.

And 100 of the 160 points scored in the game came inside the paint.

For the Lobos, it would be a huge road win to help get them on the right track. For the Broncos a win would start off a huge week the right way and keep them in contention for the regular season conference title.

BSU has won four of the last five between the teams.

usc logoUSC at Colorado

Thursday, February 23
6:00 pm PT, ESPN2

This game is the start of a big week for USC. If the Trojans want to make the field of 68, they can ill afford to drop either game on the Mountain trip and especially this one at Colorado.

The Buffaloes have played well at home this season as they have gone 9-1 in their last 10 in Boulder.

The Trojans have not been able to score as efficiently away from the Galen Center, averaging 8.4 points less per game away from the home arena.

This season USC is 12th in the nation with a blocked shot rate of 8.8%; Colorado is 346th in the nation with 7.3% of their shots getting blocked.

The Buffs are 36th in the nation with a total rebound rate of 53.1%; USC is collecting 49.5% of rebounds on hand, 208th in the country.

Colorado has won seven of the last nine meetings between the teams and has taken eight of eleven meetings in Boulder.

Pepperdine at Santa Clara

Thursday, February 23
7:00 pm PT, WCC Network

The last time the Waves took to the court they played Gonzaga tough, putting up 88 points in a nine-point loss.

Scoring has not been an issue all season for the Waves as they are averaging 77.3 points per outing, the 37th-highest total in America.

The problem is they are allowing 81.6 points per game, the sixth-worst scoring defense in the country. When they leave Malibu, they have been even worse, allowing 85.9 points per game.

Pepperdine has lost their last 24 road games, the longest active streak in the nation, and that scoring defense has a lot to do with it.

The Waves are getting 22.4 points per 40 minutes out of Maxwell Lewis.

Brandin Podziemski has scored 547 points on the season, entering the week that was the 23rd-highest total in the nation. In his last two games, Podziemski has averaged 21.0 points and 13.5 rebounds.

No. 4 UCLA at Utah

Thursday, February 23
8:00 pm PT, FS1

UCLA has opened Pac-12 play at 14-2 for the first time since the 2007-08 season when they also won 14 of their first 16 conference games.

The Utes are 2-4 in their last six games and need to find some wins.

Both teams have success when the defense is rolling.

UCLA is seventh in the nation and leads the Pac-12 allowing 59.4 points per game while the Utes are second in the conference and 24th in the country at 62.9 allowed per contest.

UCLA has held 24 of 27 opponents to under 70 points this season.

The Bruins lead the nation with an average of 9.4 more scoring chances per game than their opponent, whereas Utah is 261st as they are getting 1.6 fewer scoring chances than the team they are playing.

UCLA has won six in a row in the series and owns a 12-6 mark against the Utes since they joined the Pac-12. The Bruins have won their last three trips to Salt Lake City.

UCLA has not only found success in recent road trips to the Huntsman Center but is also 21-11 in their last 32 games away from Pauley Pavilion.

Portland at San Francisco

Thursday, February 23
8:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

San Francisco has won its last two games as they look to regain some of the promise the 11-4 non-conference start brought them.

Portland has lost three of their last four and the Pilots have allowed 87.8 points per game during that stretch.

The teams are going in separate directions, but this is a key battle for WCC standings and seeding. Portland was the winner in the first meeting, 92-87 in San Francisco.

The Pilots sit a game behind the Dons in the standings and would own the tiebreaker with a sweep.

Tyler Robertson has reached double figures in each of Portland’s last six games, averaging 17.6 per game during that stretch. San Francisco has scored 39.9% of their points this season off threes, ninth most in the nation.

And 38.1% of the points Portland has allowed this season have come off three-pointers, more than all but 10 teams in the nation.

Washington State at Stanford

Thursday, February 23
8:00 pm PT, Pac-12

Washington State enters this one having won three in a row. Stanford was the hot team a week ago before dropping a pair in Los Angeles.

WSU will live off the three as 39.1% of Washington State’s scoring has come off three-pointers, the 11th-highest rate in the nation. In their last three, the Cougars have scored 45.6% of their points off triples.

Stanford is seeing opponents connect on 35.5% of three-point attempts, ranking 274th in the nation in three-point defense.

In the last three games, the Cougars have only had 1.2% of their FG attempts blocked, the fewest in the nation during that time.

During that same stretch, Stanford has only blocked 3.4% of shot attempts, the bottom third nationally over that period.

The Cougars’ win at Maples Pavilion last season was their first since 2011. Since 1998, Stanford is 22-3 in home games against Washington State.

Arizona State at No. 7 ArizonaArizona football Pac-12

Saturday, February 25
11:00 am PT, CBS

The Wildcats have gone 34-1 in their last 35 home games overall and have won seven of the last eight times they have hosted the Sun Devils.

In the series, Arizona is 12-3 in the last 15 meetings since the 2015-16 season. Since the 1983-84 season Arizona is 34-5 against Arizona State in Tucson.

The first time these teams met, the Wildcats were nine-point winners in a game that had the pace to favor the Sun Devils. ASU was also a different team, entering that one at 11-2.

Since the first meeting, the Wildcats have continued to roll going 11-3 since while ASU has gone 8-6 in the 14 games since.

Arizona is 12th in the nation with a non-blocked two-point shooting percentage of 62.0%, the Sun Devils are eighth in the nation with a non-blocked two-point defense of 49.5%.

Arizona State is blocking 8.4% of shot attempts this season, 21st nationally, and had a blocked shot rate of 8.4% in the first meeting.

Arizona’s had only 3.3% of their shots blocked in the last three games and are at 5.4% on the season.

USC at Utah

Saturday, February 25
5:00 pm PT, ESPNU

We talked about USC having a big week ahead of them and not wanting to stumble at all.

For Utah, this is a week to show what they can do. A pair of wins over UCLA and USC would work wonders for their postseason resume.

USC and Utah have both been good defensively, especially inside.

The Trojans are fourth in the nation with a non-blocked two-point defense of 49.1% while Utah is 13th at a rate of 50.1%. The Trojans are also altering shots at a high rate with a blocked shot rate of 8.8% this season.

Branden Carlson has been effective at the rim for the Utes as he ranks 20th in the nation and second among Pac-12 players with 1.036 blocked shots per foul committed.

Joshua Morgan is 44th in the same category for the Trojans at .839 blocks per foul.

No. 22 San Diego State at New Mexico

Saturday, February 25
7:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

The Aztecs have two more road games left on the slate, and they are both big ones. This one takes them to the Pit, and they will close out the road schedule at Boise on Tuesday.

San Diego State will enter this game with a 7-1 mark in true road games this season and has won six of seven conference road games. And that is a big reason why the Aztecs are in control of the conference lead at the moment.

SDSU enters the week with the nation’s 19th-best adjusted defensive rank. New Mexico enters the week ranked 22nd in adjusted offensive rank.

Contrasting styles will be on full display in Albuquerque. The Aztecs are a better offensive team than the Lobos normally are on the defensive side.

UNM is 10th in the country with 17.2 made free throws per game, and San Diego State opponents are attempting just 16.9 FTs per game.

Oregon Ducks Logo Pac-12Oregon at Oregon State

Saturday, February 25
7:00 pm PT, Pac-12

Oregon has lost three straight games and sees their NCAA hopes circling the drain after a promising stretch at the end of January and the first week of February.

The Beavers have gone 1-5 in their last six games.

The first meeting in this rivalry went the way of the Ducks with a 77-68 win at Matt Knight Arena on New Year’s Eve. It was Oregon’s fourth straight win in the series and 23rd in the last 27 between the teams in Eugene.

This one will be in Corvallis and the Beavers have been better at home, not only in the series but also this season.

OSU has won 16 of the last 27 from UO at home and this season the Beavs are 9-5 in Gill Coliseum compared to 1-13 away from home.

Kel’el Ware will not make things easy inside for the Beavers as he is 11th in the nation with 1.4 blocked shots per foul committed.

OSU is getting 6.2% of their shots blocked on the year while the Ducks have a blocked shot rate of 8.4%, 23rd in the nation.

No. 15 Saint Mary’s at No. 12 Gonzaga

Saturday, February 25
7:00 pm PT, ESPN

Barring any upsets on Thursday night, this will decide the WCC Championship.

A Gonzaga win and the teams will share it. A Saint Mary’s win and the Gaels will be the sole regular season champions.

This is a battle of contrasting styles.

Saint Mary’s is fourth in the nation, allowing just 58.9 points per game. In their last three games, Gonzaga has averaged 97.7 points per game, up from their NCAA leading 86.3 for the season.

The Gaels are 11th in the nation with an average of 5.5 more scoring chances per game than their opponents. Gonzaga is 27-3 in their last 30 home games against Saint Mary’s dating back to 1995.

A total of 13 of the last 14 between these teams have been decided by 10 points or more with the Zags taking 11 of those 13 double-digit games.

The only single-digit game in that mix was the Gaels’ eight-point overtime win earlier this season.

Saint Mary’s is looking to sweep the regular season series from Gonzaga for the first time since 1995.

No. 22 San Diego State at Boise State

Tuesday, February 28
6:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

This will be the third game in seven days for the Broncos and the third in eight days for the Aztecs.

Should the teams take care of things ahead of this one it could be for the Mountain West regular season title.

The first meeting between the teams was a 20-point win for the Aztecs at Viejas Arena. That was a bit of an anomaly between these two in recent years as the four prior meetings to that had been decided by a total of 11 points.

The Broncos have won five of the last seven meetings with the Aztecs in Boise.

Both teams will defend and make life hard on the opposing offense.

We talked earlier about San Diego State being 19th in adjusted defense. The Broncos enter the week 10th.

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