Stephen Vilardo’s Week 7 SuperWest Hoops ‘Games to Watch’

Washington gets a shot at a ranked out-of-league win against No. 23 Auburn

Posted on December 21, 2022

  By Stephen Vilardo, SuperWest Sports

This week we do not see the same non-conference ranked opponents that we have had in the past two weeks.

But that is normally the case as we head into the holidays and normally the final tune-ups prior to conference play getting underway in full effect. But we still have some good ones to look forward to.

California gets a shot at a win—could it be the only one they have this season? Washington gets a shot at a ranked out-of-league win and a tournament in Hawaii.

The game of the week for my money is in the Bay Area featuring Arizona State and San Francisco.

UT Arlington at California

Wednesday, December 21
4:00 pm PT, Pac-12

California is 0-12 on the season and has lost their last 15 games dating to last season, the longest streak in the country. The Bears are the only Division I team that is still winless this year.

Will the Bears go winless for the season? Probably not. But this one at home against the Mavericks is probably their last best chance to get a win and is the last non-conference game on the schedule.

This season Cal is 355th in scoring offense nationally at 58.0 points per game. The Mavs are averaging 68.6, however, in their eight games against D-I competition Arlington has only scored 56.6 points per game.

The Mavericks have won four games this season but only one of those has been against a D-I opponent as they knocked off Northern Kentucky. The Mavericks are shooting 44.5% on non-blocked two-point FGs this season, the fourth worst in the nation.

If the Bears cannot get a win in this one, then it will be an extremely uphill battle the rest of the way.

Wyoming vs Saint Mary’s

Wednesday, December 21
5:30 pm PT, FS1, Phoenix (Jerry Colangelo Classic)

The Cowboys appeared as though they may have got things turned around with the big win over LA Tech, but they fell by 15 against Dayton in Chicago.

Wyoming was only able to score 49 against the Flyers’ defense. Not a good omen as they will face Saint Mary’s in Phoenix to conclude nonconference play.

Wyoming had a pair of scoreless droughts in Chicago, one lasting six minutes and another lasting three minutes.

The Gaels are coming off a loss in which they allowed Colorado State to shoot lights out as the Rams shot 60% from the field in the opening 20 minutes.

This is a big game for both teams. Wyoming needs a good win ahead of the start of Mountain West play, Saint Mary’s needs to rebound from the loss on their home court.

The Cowboys are shooting 60.8% this season on non-blocked twos, good for the 32nd-best mark in the nation while the Gaels are defending those shots the seventh-best in the country at 46.9%.

The Gaels are very good at defending the two-point FG and Wyoming has only scored 41.2% of their points off two-point FGs this season, 354th in the nation.

No. 23 Auburn at Washington

Wednesday, December 21
6:00 pm PT, Pac-12

Auburn left USC with their second loss of the season on Sunday afternoon. The Tigers will stay on the west coast and head to Seattle.

The Tigers are blocking 12.9% of opponents’ shots on the season to lead the nation and have recorded at least one block in 64 straight games. The Huskies are getting a block on 10.4% of shots to rank sixth in the country.

Auburn had their third-best first-half shooting performance of the season against the Trojans.

Washington is coming off their most lopsided win of the season and will look to build on that momentum and pick up what could be their signature win of the nonconference in their final tune-up before the schedule turns to Pac-12 games only.

No. 20 TCU at Utah

Wednesday, December 21
6:00 pm PT, Pac-12

The Utes are coming off a loss at BYU in a back-and-forth game in which the Utes got out-rebounded and allowed an opponent to shoot over 40% from the field for just the second time this season.

This one will be in Vivint Arena and not the Huntsman Center, but the Utes are 7-1 in Salt Lake City this season with a scoring margin of +22.1 while going 2-2 with an average margin of -1.5 points per game in games outside Salt Lake City.

Rebounding could be big in this one. The Horned Frogs are 7-1 this season and 107-35 under Jamie Dixon when winning the battle on the glass, the Utes are 17th in the nation with a total rebound rate of 55.1%.

Texas Christian is shooting 45.2% from the floor on the season while Utah is limiting opponents to 35.0% shooting on the season, the fourth-best in the nation.

The Horned Frogs are seeing opponents shoot 39.0% against them while the Utes are shooting 46.3% on the season.

No. 25 Arizona State at San Francisco

Wednesday, December 21
7:00 pm PT, CBS Sports

This one may be the marquee matchup on the schedule.

The edge should lie with the Sun Devils, but this is a good San Francisco team. Arizona State has been on fire this season and has gone 18-3 in their last 21 games since last season. Khalil Shabazz and Tyrell Roberts lead the Dons in scoring.

Arizona State has been exceptional against opposing guards this season, limiting them to just 31.4% from the floor and forcing 7.8 turnovers per game from the guard spot.

ASU is finally getting the national recognition they deserve as a ranked team for the first time this season.

San Francisco is scoring 38.6% of their points this season off three-pointers, while ASU has held opponents to 28.4% on threes.

It will be a tall ask for USF, but the Dons can get a huge win out-of-conference and establish themselves as the second-best team in the WCC.

Tulsa at Loyola Marymount

Wednesday, December 21
7:00 pm PT, WCC Network

The Lions are another team that scores a good portion of their points from beyond the arc getting 38.4% of their points from downtown.

Defensively, 28.0% of the points scored this season against the Golden Hurrican have come off threes, the eighth fewest in the nation.

Tulsa needed to do some work to get past Mississippi Valley State at home their last time out. This should be a game that LMU should take control of early.

Tulsa is only attempting .228 FTs per FG attempt this season—339th in the nation—and they are only making 12.8 FTs per 100 possessions. Loyola Marymount commits a foul on 27.5% of possessions this season ranking 308th.

Colorado State vs USCusc logo

Wednesday, December 21
8:00 pm PT, Pac-12

Both these teams are coming off big wins over the weekend. USC topped Auburn at home. Colorado State went to Saint Mary’s and got a win over the weekend, but some of their losses this season have been head-scratchers.

The Rams lost at home to Northern Colorado and got hammered by Colorado in Boulder. CSU gets another crack at a Pac-12 opponent when they visit the Galen Center.

We will get a pair of players coming off weekly conference honors as Tre White was the Pac-12 Freshman of the week while Isaiah Stevens earned Mountain West player of the week honors for the Rams last week.

Boogie Ellis was huge for the Trojans against Auburn, scoring seven points down the stretch to seal the deal.

Colorado State managed to shoot 55% from the floor against a Gael team that was limiting opponents to 38% shooting. The Trojans shot 54% against Auburn in the first half before cooling off and hanging on.

A complete game could set the tone for Pac-12 play. For the Rams, another upset on the road would signal another contender in a suddenly deep Mountain West.

Boise State at Santa Clara

Thursday, December 22
2:00 pm PT, WCC Network

Boise State has won nine in a row, while Santa Clara will enter the battle of the Broncos as the winner of three in a row. Brandin Podziemski has six 20-point games on the season for Santa Clara.

Boise State has held opponents to 55.8 points during their nine-game win streak while winning those contests by an average of 19.9 points per game.

Santa Clara ranks 11th in the nation with a foul on just 19.6% of possessions.

Boise State is limiting opponents to an assist rate of 40.7%, the 19th-best defensive mark in the nation. The Broncos have been exceptionally good after halftime and have the fourth-highest second-half scoring margin in the nation at +9.3 per game.

Utah State vs Seattle

Thursday, December 22
2:00 pm PT, ESPNU, Honolulu (Diamond Head Classic 12/22-25)

Utah State is 9-1 on the season and coming off their first loss. The Aggies are getting 36.1 points per game from their bench which is the fourth most in the nation.

Seattle is off to an 8-2 start with the losses both coming on the road at the hands of Pac-12 opponents.

The Redhawks turned the ball over on 23.7% of their possessions the last time out. The Aggies, however, are not forcing a lot of turnovers on the season with one forced on just 16.9% of possessions.

The Aggies do share the ball though, as they are eighth in the nation with an assist rate of 67.8%. Steven Ashworth is third in the nation with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 4.3, while Rylan Jones averages 8.0 assists per 40 minutes played.

Next game: vs. SMU or Iona.

George Washington vs Washington State

Thursday, December 22
6:00 pm PT, ESPN2, Honolulu (Diamond Head Classic 12/22-25)

Washington State heads to the Diamond Head Classic with a 0-3 mark this season on a neutral floor and just 1-5 on the season away from Pullman.

The most recent loss was to Baylor in a six-point loss to the number 11 team in the nation in Dallas.

Duplicating that performance could be a winning formula for the Cougars at the holiday tournament. WSU was able to out-rebound Baylor 32-29 and the Cougs are currently 21st in the nation with a total rebound rate of 54.9% this season.

In the opener in Hawaii, they will get a GW team that has not played since December 13th when Bishop Edwards went for 30 points in their win over Coppin State.

The Colonials are just 6-4 on the season but are 1-0 against opponents from a power conference getting a win over South Carolina earlier in the season.

Next game: vs. Pepperdine or Hawaii

Pepperdine at Hawaii

Thursday, December 22
8:00 pm PT, ESPN2, Honolulu (Diamond Head Classic 12/22-25)

The Waves have lost three of their last four with two coming in overtime but will be visiting the Aloha State coming off a 33-point win over Cal State LA.

Maxwell Lewis enters the tournament having scored 21.7 points per game in his last five. Lewis, along with fellow sophomores Houston Mallette, and Mike Mitchell Jr have accounted for nearly 50% of Pepperdine’s scoring this season.

The Waves will meet a Rainbows squad that will have had 11 days off between games, coming off a win over Saint Francis. The Waves are 6-5 on the season but have been in every game except UCLA.

In their four losses outside of the UCLA game, the margin has been a mere six points.

Loyola (IL) vs Stanford

Thursday, December 22
7:00 pm PT, Pac-12, Santa Cruz

Stanford is just 4-7 on the season and coming off a 10-point loss at the hands of Texas. The Ramblers are 6-5 on the season as they head west.

This is not exactly the start to the season that the Cardinal were looking for and this is also not the same caliber Loyola team that has been NCAA darlings the last few years.

Against the Longhorns, Stanford was bested by seven in the second half. This season Stanford has been outscoring opponents by 4.8 points per game in the second half.

The opening 20 has been the real issue for the Cardinal as they are getting outscored by 1.2 points per game in the first half this season.

Loyola has seen the opposite as the Ramblers outscored opponents by 3.6 per game to open the game but find themselves starting slowly and trailing by 2.5 points per game at the break.

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