Top teams to square off
Notes: McGraw picks up 600th win; seven teams still unbeaten
No. 1 vs. No. 2 in Palo Alto on Saturday
With road wins in the past week against South Carolina and Tennessee, No. 1 Stanford returns to Palo Alto to host No. 2 Connecticut (10-0) on Dec. 29.
Saturday’s clash for Stanford will mark the ninth time it has been part of a No. 1 versus No. 2 matchup. The Cardinal owns a record of 1-7 in its past eight No. 1 versus No. 2 games, with its only win coming Nov. 17, 1996, when it defeated No. 2 Alabama 74-65 at Maples Pavilion. The game with Connecticut will be the second top-two matchup at Maples Pavilion and the fourth time that the Cardinal and Huskies have met as the nation's top two teams. The three previous meetings came during the span of 367 days from April 5, 2009 to April 6, 2010. The Huskies defeated the Cardinal at the 2009 and 2010 Women’s Final Fours, as well as in a regular-season contest at the XL Center on Dec. 23, 2009.
Saturday's matchup marks the 51st meeting between the top two teams in the Associated Press Poll since the poll's inception for the 1976-77 season. The No. 1 team holds a 31-19 edge and has won the past nine meetings. The last time the No. 2 team came out on top in this matchup was Feb. 25, 2006, when No. 2 North Carolina defeated No. 1 Duke 77-65 in Chapel Hill.
Stanford is coming off a 2-0 trip in Southeastern Conference country with a 73-60 win against Tennessee this past Saturday and a win against previously undefeated South Carolina on Dec. 19. In the win against Tennessee, Stanford claimed its second win in Knoxville and first since Dec. 15, 1996. Chiney Ogwumike continues to play well for the Cardinal, posting her eighth consecutive double-double with 21 points and a career-high 19 rebounds and five assists in the win versus the Lady Vols. The 11-0 start for Stanford is its second-best start in program history.
Connecticut went into the holiday break with a pair of big wins against Oakland (97-25) and Hartford (102-45) last week. Overall, the Huskies have captured four wins against top-25 teams this season and are led by the foursome of Breanna Stewart (16.9 ppg, 7.2 rpg), Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis (16.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg), Stefanie Dolson (11.7 ppg, 6.0 rpg) and Bria Hartley (10.1 ppg, 3.0 rpg).
The magnificent seven
Seven teams remain undefeated as January nears with Colorado (10-0), Connecticut (10-0), Dayton (12-0), Duke (10-0), Georgia (12-0), Oklahoma State (9-0) and Stanford (11-0) still perfect for 2012.
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Buffaloes stampede to 700th program victory
Colorado improved to 10-0 with a 81-45 win against Utah Valley State on Dec. 22. The win was the 700th scored by the program in its history. The Buffaloes will be facing numerous challenges during the next two weeks with visits by New Mexico (Dec. 29), Stanford (Jan. 4), California (Jan. 6) and Utah (Jan. 8).
McGraw records 600th win
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw recorded her 600th win at the helm of the Fighting Irish when Notre Dame defeated Texas A&M 83-74 on Dec. 21 in the championship game of the World Vision Classic in Las Vegas. The game against Texas A&M was a rematch of the 2011 national championship game, which Texas A&M won. In the most recent contest with the Aggies, the Fighting Irish were led by senior Skylar Diggins with 24 points and five steals. Junior Natalie Achonwa added 22 points and 14 rebounds. Diggins was named the Most Valuable Player of the World Vision Classic after leading Notre Dame to the tournament title and averaging 20.3 points, 4.3 assists and 2.7 steals per game with a .511 field goal percentage in wins against Texas A&M, Kansas State and Alabama A&M.
Michigan State back on top
The Michigan State Spartans have quietly jumped out to an 11-1 start to the season, with their only loss in Dayton against the undefeated Flyers on Dec. 8. Ousted in the first-round of the 2012 NCAA tournament, Michigan State has wins this season against North Carolina State, Oregon State and Texas Tech. After a Dec. 29 non-conference game at Temple, the Spartans open Big Ten play at Minnesota on Jan. 3.
Miners striking it rich
UTEP looks like the team to beat in Conference USA. The Miners have secured wins against Arizona State, Arizona, Kansas State and New Mexico, jumping out to a 10-1 start to the season. UTEP’s lone defeat was a one-point setback at New Mexico State on Nov. 28. The Miners are led by 6-foot-1 junior forward Kayla Thornton who is averaging 14.1 points per game.
Rockets red glare
Following a Nov. 14, 79-76 loss at Dayton, the Toledo Rockets have reeled off nine consecutive wins to improve to 10-1. Included in the string of wins were victories against St. Bonaventure and Marquette. It appears that Toledo’s biggest challenger in the Mid-American Conference will be Bowling Green, which is off to an 8-3 non-conference start. The Rockets and Falcons will play only once during the regular season on Jan. 13 in in Bowling Green.