3 games to watch in women’s college basketball for Week 6

Notre Dame guard Olivia Miles (5) directs the offense during the Northern Illinois-Notre Dame NCAA Women’s basketball game on Tuesday, November 07, 2022, at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Indiana.Northern Illinois Vs Notre Dame
Notre Dame guard Olivia Miles (5) directs the offense during the Northern Illinois-Notre Dame NCAA Women’s basketball game on Tuesday, November 07, 2022, at Purcell Pavilion in South Bend, Indiana.Northern Illinois Vs Notre Dame /

A battle between two top-10 teams — Notre Dame and Virginia Tech — highlights another week of must-watch women’s college basketball games.

Welcome back to FanSided’s weekly look around the women’s basketball world. Looking for some games to watch this upcoming week? We’ll be highlighting three of them that should be on your radar.

Whether you’re a long-time viewer who’s just looking for a shortcut to see what you should watch or you’re just getting into the sport and want to know about compelling storylines, we have you covered. And at the end, I’ll include a short “other games to watch” section, if you want to take your basketball watching further.

Let’s dig into the sixth week of the women’s college basketball season!

Here are the women’s college basketball games you won’t want to miss this week:

3. No. 21 Arkansas at No. 18 Creighton

Saturday, Dec. 17, 2:00 p.m. — FloSports

The beginning of this week is a little light in notable games, but starting Thursday, the women’s college basketball calendar really heats up. Check the bottom of this piece for some Thursday and Friday games to watch.

On Saturday, we get what should be a really fun ranked matchup between Arkansas and Creighton.

These are two really good scoring offenses. Arkansas’ 78.3 points per game rank 31st in Division I, while Creighton’s 74.2 rank 63rd. Both teams are also in the top 100 in scoring defense.

The biggest reason to watch this game? The clash of offensive styles. Arkansas plays at the 26th-fastest pace in the country, while Creighton plays at the 196th-fastest pace, which is faster than they usually play, as the Bluejays consistently rank as one of the country’s slowest teams. Which style will win out?

From an individual perspective, Creighton has two players averaging around 17 points per game in Lauren Jensen and Morgan Maly. The two juniors have both shot well from the floor this season.

As for Arkansas, Mike Neighbor’s teams have always been offensive juggernauts, but a lot of the players who’ve helped them do that over the last few years are gone now. Enter Samara Spencer and Erynn Barnum, the next great Razorback scorers, Barnum is shooting 69.3 percent from the floor and averaging 14.9 points per game, while Spencer hasn’t been as efficient but is scoring 15.8 points per game. The team also has a couple of younger players who fans should keep an eye on in Saylor Poffenbarger and Jersey Wolfenbarger.

2. No. 5 Notre Dame at No. 7 Virginia Tech

Sunday, Dec. 18, 4:00 p.m. — ACC Network

On Sunday, we’ve got a battle of top-10 teams when Virginia Tech meets Notre Dame. It should be a long fight between these two teams (and a few others) in the ACC this year, and the winner of Sunday’s game gets an early boost in the conference race.

Notre Dame has been one of the best scoring offenses in the country this year, averaging 88.2 points per game, which ranks fourth in the country. Olivia Miles leads the team with 16.0 points per contest despite shooting just 27.3 percent from 3. She’s been one of the country’s best point guards so far:

Miles combines great vision with an ability to drive to the basket. She ranks fourth in DI in assists per game with 7.2. She’s also been one of many Notre Dame players that excel at getting to the bucket; five Irish players rank in at least the 90th percentile in field goal attempts at the rim per CBB Analytics, and the one major contributor who doesn’t is Dara Mabrey, who is one of the nation’s best 3-point shooters.

On the other side, the Hokies are 10-0 right now and have the third-best scoring defense in the country, allowing 48.5 points per game. The most points they’ve allowed in a game this year were 74 against Kentucky. The second-most? Only 58 against Boston College.

Led by Elizabeth Kitley, the Hokies hold opponents to 42.4 percent shooting at the rim. For some perspective, the Division I average is 58.2 percent there. This defense has excelled at the exact thing the Notre Dame offense excels at, creating what should be a great clash whenever Notre Dame has the basketball.

1. No. 12 Arizona vs No. 19 Baylor

Sunday, Dec. 18, 7:30 p.m. — ESPN2

Cap off your weekend with Arizona and Baylor, who’ll meet in Dallas at the American Airlines Center.

Coming into the week, Arizona is 7-1, with their only loss coming to a really talented Kansas team that’s currently 9-0 on the year. The Wildcats were blown out in that one, losing by 27, and there’s definitely some concern since that was really the team’s first tough game. It’s the only game against a Quad 1 team per CBB Analytics, and the Wildcats now have the worst net rating in the Pac-12 against Quad 1 opponents.

Of course, we can’t ignore how good the team’s been against everyone else. They have the 17th-best net rating in all of Division I, and have been one of the best teams when it comes to avoiding turnovers. The offense has been particularly exciting, with four players scoring in double figures on a per-game basis, led by Shaina Pellington’s 14.3 points per game. Sunday offers the Wildcats a chance to prove that the loss to Kansas was just a fluke.

On the other side, we’ve got Baylor. The Bears have had some of the worst injury luck in the country. The two prized transfers for Nicki Collen’s squad, Aijha Blackwell and Dree Edwards, have combined to play just three games. But freshman Bella Fontleroy has stepped up, making an immediate impact in Waco with her 10.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, and the guard combination of Sarah Andrews and Jaden Owens has excelled. Owens is particularly interesting because nothing about her past play indicated she’d be someone who’d average 11.7 points, 6.2 assists and 2.4 steals per contest.

Other Games of Note

  • No. 1 South Carolina at South Dakota State — Thursday, Dec. 15, 7:00 PM — ESPN2
  • No. 13 UCLA at USC — Thursday, Dec. 15, 10:00 PM — Pac-12 Networks
  • BYU at No. 22 Gonzaga — Saturday, Dec. 17, 5:00 PM — WCC Network
  • Louisville at Pitt — Sunday, Dec. 18, 2:00 PM — ACC Network
  • Tennessee at No. 2 Stanford — Sunday, Dec. 18, 2:00 PM — ABC
  • No. 10 Iowa State vs No. 25 Villanova — Sunday, Dec. 18, 3:30 PM — ESPN or ESPN2

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