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College basketball viewer’s guide: A key week awaits BYU women (+more)

BYU’s Shaylee Gonzales drives against Saint Mary’s during the Cougars’ 80-63 win at the Marriott Center on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. Gonzales and the Cougars will play at Portland and No. 20 Gonzaga this week.
Madeline Mortensen, BYU

Editor’s note: This story was updated to reflect that the BYU women’s basketball team’s game against Portland on Thursday was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.

It’s a big week for the BYU women’s basketball team.

The Cougars enter Week 10 sitting in second place in the West Coast Conference standings, with the chance to pick up a road win against the top team in the league, a game that could prove crucial come conference tournament seeding time.

BYU was originally scheduled to play at Portland (7-5, 4-2 WCC) on Thursday — a matchup that would have pitted the teams No. 2 and No. 3 in the WCC standings — but it was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols.

Instead, the Cougars will have just one opponent this week, and it’s an important one: No. 20 Gonzaga (12-2, 7-0 WCC) in Spokane, Wash. The Zags are the lone remaining WCC team with an unbeaten record and have won their league games by an average of 20.8 points per game.

BYU swept the Zags in three games (including the conference tournament) two years ago, but fell both times to Gonzaga last season.

The Cougars (8-2, 4-1 WCC) have lost only once since the start of December, a two-point loss at San Diego two weeks ago. In the latest ESPN bracketology, BYU is among the next four out, and a win this week would help bolster the Cougars’ case to return to the NCAA Tournament, in addition to helping them bolster their position near the top of the WCC standings.

Here’s a look at this week’s schedule for Utah college basketball teams, plus three national games with significant implications:


Thursday

  • BYU men’s basketball vs. Portland, 7 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
    The Cougars play at home for the first time in a month and face a Pilots team that is winless in WCC action, losing by an average of 20.7 points per game. BYU, meanwhile, has won two straight.
  • Weber State women’s basketball at Southern Utah, 6:30 p.m.
  • Southern Utah men’s basketball at Weber State, 7 p.m. (KJZZ)
    The T-Birds and Wildcats will face each other twice, with each team hosting a game. Southern Utah is trying to keep pace near the top of the Big Sky standings after a split last week at Eastern Washington, while Weber State is playing just its second Big Sky series so far because of COVID-19 issues.
  • Utah men’s basketball at Washington State, 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
    The Utes head into their lone meeting with the Cougars this season coming off an embarrassing loss to Cal and looking to get back to .500 on the year. Washington State has lost four of five and sits a half game above Utah in the Pac-12 standings.
  • Utah State men’s basketball vs. Colorado State, 9 p.m. (FS1)
    The Aggies rolled to victory in their first matchup with the Rams earlier this week. A victory would be the 12th straight for Utah State and would allow it to keep pace with Boise State atop the Mountain West Conference standings before hitting the road for the next four games.

Friday

  • Utah State women’s basketball at Colorado State, 1 p.m.
  • Utah women’s basketball at Arizona, 4 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
  • Dixie State men’s basketball vs. Grand Canyon, 7 p.m. (ESPN+)
    The Trailblazers host their first home Western Athletic Conference series of the year, looking for their first league win as a member of the conference. Dixie State has lost four straight, while the Antelopes have won four in a row.

Saturday

  • Weber State men’s basketball at Southern Utah, noon (Pluto TV)
  • Southern Utah women’s basketball at Weber State, noon
  • UVU men’s basketball at St. John’s, 2 p.m. (FS1)
    The Wolverines added a nonconference game to their schedule earlier this week, with a break in their WAC slate, and will head to New York to face a St. John’s team fresh off a win over No. 23 UConn.
  • BYU women’s basketball at Gonzaga, 3 p.m. (WCC Networks)
    No. 20 Gonzaga presents the Cougars’ most difficult challenge of the season. The Zags are 7-0 in WCC play and are among the nation’s leaders in scoring defense, allowing opponents 55.5 points per game.
  • Dixie State men’s basketball vs. Grand Canyon, 7 p.m. (WAC Digital Network)
  • BYU men’s basketball vs. Pepperdine, 8 p.m. (ESPN Networks)
    The Cougars will host the first of two straight games against the Waves. The second game is set for next Wednesday in California, a contest rescheduled due to COVID-19 issues.

Sunday

  • Utah men’s basketball at Washington, 2 p.m. (ESPNU)
    The Utes opened their season with a 14-point victory over the Huskies in their first meeting. Washington is last in the Pac-12 standings, but is coming off an 84-80 upset of Colorado, its first win in league play.
  • Utah women’s basketball at Arizona State, 2 p.m.

3 national games to watch

  • No. 6 UCLA at No. 5 Stanford, women’s basketball
    Friday, 8 p.m. (Pac-12 Networks)
    The Cardinal were the top-ranked team in the nation before Colorado knocked off Stanford in overtime to hand them their first loss. The Bruins, too, are coming off an overtime game, edging Washington State by two for UCLA’s third straight win.
  • No. 15 Ohio State at No. 10 Wisconsin, men’s basketball
    Saturday, 2 p.m. (CBS)
    The Badgers have won four of five — their lone loss coming to No. 7 Michigan — and are looking for their first win over a ranked opponent since the turn of the calendar year. The Buckeyes had won three straight, including two wins over teams in the top 15, before a close loss to Purdue.
  • No. 19 Missouri at No. 6 Tennessee, men’s basketball
    Saturday, 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
    The Vols are coming off a 26-point loss to Florida when they were held to 29% shooting from the floor. The Tigers have won three of four since losing Tennessee by 20 on Dec. 30.