This week’s women’s college basketball schedule is loaded with must-watch games, including key battles for control of the Big 12 and Big Ten.
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 ninth 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. 23 Baylor @ No. 20 Oklahoma
Tuesday, Jan. 3, 7:00 p.m. — ESPN+
Non-conference play didn’t necessarily go the way that Baylor was hoping. The Bears, who’ve spent the last decade as the best team in the Big 12, finally look like they might not win the regular season title, though what happened in non-conference doesn’t necessarily mean anything when it comes to conference play.
The biggest issue for Baylor is that after losing NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo to the WNBA, the team had to rebuild its frontcourt through the transfer portal. But the two key players the team added have dealt with injuries: Aijha Blackwell has played in just five of the team’s 12 games, while Dree Edwards has yet to appear in a single game.
Blackwell had returned, but she was back out for the Long Beach State and TCU games. The Bears didn’t need her for those two games, but they will need her for a meeting with fellow ranked team Oklahoma.
As for the Sooners, the team’s resume looks good minus one blowout — and I mean BLOWOUT, as they lost by 46 — to Utah. But since then, Oklahoma’s won eight in a row, with the last seven of those by double-digits.
But Oklahoma also hasn’t played the world’s toughest schedule. Their opponent’s average win percentage ranks 138th in the country. This will be a real test for this team, especially when you factor in that Oklahoma is one of the strangest teams in the country when it comes to the difference in their offense and defense — the Sooners, led by Madi Williams’ 17.1 points per game, rank third in scoring offense, but also ranks 314th in scoring defense. Can they survive in a tough Big 12 with such a porous defense?
2. No. 12 Iowa @ No. 14 Michigan
Saturday, Jan. 7, 4:30 p.m. — FOX
This is an important game, because both of these teams have already suffered a conference loss, and they don’t want to fall too far behind Ohio State in the race for the Big Ten regular season title.
Iowa is coming off a 90-86 loss to unranked Illinois. The Hawkeyes had been 3-0 in conference play, beating Wisconsin, Minnesota and Purdue all by double-digits, but the Illini managed to keep up with Iowa stride for stride on Sunday. Caitlin Clark scored 32 for Iowa, but Illinois got 24 from Genesis Bryant and 20 from Makira Cook. Illinois isn’t playing in this game so I don’t want to linger on them for too long, but keep an eye on this Illini squad.
On the other side, we’ve got Michigan, which also lost its first conference game this past weekend, falling 66-57 to Ohio State. Losing to Ohio State is a lot different than losing to Illinois when it comes to the public perception of the loss, so I think there’s a little less pressure on Michigan here, unless they can’t manage to get past Penn State on Tuesday.
The key for Michigan here will be to make the most of every offensive trip. Iowa’s an elite offense, but the team ranks 260th in the country in scoring defense. A good offense — and Michigan is a top 50 scoring offense that boasts the 11th-best field goal percentage in Division I — can take advantage of that. This should be a game that’s heavy on scoring at both ends.
1. No. 17 Oregon @ No. 18 Arizona
Sunday, Jan. 8, 7:00 p.m. — ESPN2
You have a couple of chances this week to watch Arizona against ranked teams, as they also face Stanford on Monday. I’m not highlighting that one, because I kind of fear that it winds up being a blowout win for Stanford, simply because of how good Stanford is.
But this one — it’ll be good. You’ve got two of the Pac-12’s best teams meeting on Sunday night in front of a national TV audience on ESPN2.
Oregon ended 2022 on a bad note, dropping consecutive games against Ohio State and UCLA, but they opened 2023 with a 28-point win over USC. The Trojans have struggled in recent years, but they’ve looked good this season, so mark that down as an impressive win for the Ducks.
This Oregon team is one of the best offensive squads in the country, averaging 82.4 points per game, which ranks 14th. They look even better on a per-play basis, with the team ranking fourth in the country in points per 100 possessions. Grace VanSlooten leads the team in scoring at 15.5 points per game.
Arizona — prior to the Stanford game, at least — has been a lot like Oregon. The Wildcats play faster, but both offenses score efficiently. Arizona is 18th in scoring offense and 20th in offensive rating, driven in large part because the team is 16th in three-point field goal percentage. Jade Loville is shooting an astonishing 49.1 percent from deep on 4.1 attempts per game. Per Her Hoop Stats, Loville ranks 10th in the country in 3-point percentage among players to take at least four 3s per game while playing in 10 or more contests.
Other games to watch
- No. 18 Arizona @ No. 2 Stanford — Monday, Jan. 2, 2:30 p.m. — Pac-12 Networks
- No. 25 St. John’s @ Seton Hall — Wednesday, Jan. 4, 7:00 p.m. — FloHoops
- Virginia @ No. 7 Virginia Tech — Thursday, Jan. 5, 7:00 p.m. — ACC Extra
- Columbia @ Princeton — Friday, Jan. 6, 7:00 p.m. — ESPNU
- No. 11 Utah @ Colorado — Friday, Jan. 6, 9:00 p.m. — Pac-12 Network
- Stephen F Austin @ Grand Canyon — Saturday, Jan. 7, 4:00 p.m. — ESPN+
- No. 23 Baylor @ No. 22 Kansas — Saturday, Jan. 7, 5:00 p.m. — ESPN+
- No. 15 Iowa State @ No. 20 Oklahoma — Sunday, Jan. 8, 3:00 p.m. — ESPN2
- No. 5 Notre Dame @ No. 13 North Carolina — Sunday, Jan. 8, 4:00 p.m. — ACC Network