LSU vs. Colorado: Preview and prediction for Tigers women’s basketball season opener in Las Vegas

LSU women’s basketball looks to begin its national title defense on Monday night, kicking the year off with a top-25 showdown against Colorado in Las Vegas.

The game will tip at 6:30 p.m. CT and be nationally televised on TNT.

There are several big stories to monitor on Monday night, most notably the anticipated debut of Louisville transfer Hailey Van Lith. The arrival of Van Lith along with a few top-rated freshmen, has led to even bigger expectations in Kim Mulkey’s third year.

We’ve gotten a preview of what this team might look like with two exhibitions, but this is its first real test. Here’s what to watch for when Angel Reese and the Tigers take the floor tonight.

What to watch for on LSU's side

The Daily Advertiser
The Daily Advertiser

The big story on Monday night is the debut of top ranked transfer Hailey Van Lith.

At SEC media days, Kim Mulkey said Van Lith was learning how to play point guard, a role she didn’t often play at Louisville.

With Alexis Morris gone, LSU needs someone to fill those shoes and LSU can maximize its talent on the floor with HVL at point.

But Colorado is a good team and a tougher opponent than what Mulkey teams usually see on the nonconference slate. Do we see Van Lith thrown into the fire tonight or does Mulkey opt to take it slow?

It’s also worth watching how Mulkey manages the rotation. This group is much deeper than last year and Mulkey said 8-9 players will see time each night. How does she opt to take advantage of that depth?

What to know about Colorado?

Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel
Syndication: The Knoxville News-Sentinel

Colorado made a Sweet 16 run last year. It was the Buffs’ longest tournament run in 20 years and they’ll look to push that momentum into this year.

Colorado is led by head coach JR Payne as he begins his sixth year with the program. Colorado was below .500 in conference play in Payne’s first four years, but the Buffs turned a corner in 2020-21, going 8-8. The next year, Colorado made its first NCAA Tournament since 2004.

On the floor, Colorado returns its leading scorer Quay Miller. She averaged 13.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last year. At 6’3′, she’s one of the tallest players on CU’s roster.

At guard, LSU will have to watch out for Frida Forman. The senior was CU’s top shooter last year and averaged 2.3 three-pointers per game.

But the story with Colorado is its defense. Payne’s unit ranked 13th in DSRS last year and allowed just 59.3 points per game. LSU has some new faces on offense so the Tigers will have to avoid growing pains, or the Buffs will make them pay.


Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

LSU is the No. 1 team in the country and the betting favorite to win the national title. The Tigers should win this game.

Now, that doesn’t mean it’ll be easy. This is the time of year when weird things happen as teams search for an identity. This LSU team should already know who it is, but there are enough new faces to make it complicated.

I think LSU will start slow on offense, but will come out with an intensity on defense that a less talented Colorado team can’t match.

Prediction: LSU 65, Colorado 54

Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire