It’s that time of year again — the women’s college basketball season is finally upon us. The regular season tips off Monday, Nov. 7.
With a jam-packed week ahead full of top teams starting their seasons, here is a breakdown of four key matchups to watch:
- When: Monday, Nov. 7 | 8 p.m. ET
- Where to watch: ESPN3
- Top storyline: First ranked vs. ranked matchup of the season
On the season's opening night, No. 21 Creighton and No. 23 South Dakota State get things started with the first ranked matchup of the year. Both teams are coming off successful postseasons, as Creighton danced all the way to the Elite Eight as a No. 10 seed and South Dakota South won the WNIT.
The Bluejays return with top scoring duo Emma Ronsiek, a South Dakota native, and Lauren Jensen, who made her mark in March. South Dakota State brought back six of its top seven scorers, including WNIT tournament MVP Myah Selland.
Without playing a minute this season, both programs have accomplished firsts — this is the first time Creighton and South Dakota State earned preseason AP top 25 rankings.
- When: Tuesday, Nov. 8 | 8:30 p.m. ET
- Where to watch: Big Ten Network
- Top storyline: First top-15 matchup
No. 5 Tennessee and No. 14 Ohio State come into the season for what could be the most competitive game of the week.
On the heels of a Sweet 16 run, Ohio State enters with its two top scorers Jacy Sheldon and Taylor Mikesell ready to make their mark in their senior seasons. Tennessee looks to find the gel the Lady Vols had early last season before they caught the injury bug. Most importantly for Tennessee — Jordan Horston returns.
This top-15 matchup will showcase where exactly the two teams are, putting the Lady Vols' preseason No. 5 ranking to the test.
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- When: Wednesday, Nov. 10 | 7 p.m. ET
- Where to watch: SNY
- Top storyline: How will injury riddled UConn look?
Less than six months removed from a national title game run led by Paige Bueckers, No. 6 UConn looks quite different now.
The former Naismith Player of the Year suffered a torn ACL in August, and will miss the entire 2022-23 season. Incoming freshman Ice Brady is also sidelined for the year after a dislocated patella. The Huskies were forced to play without Bueckers for most of last season, when they went 15-4 after she injured that same left knee.
All eyes will be on sophomore guard Azzi Fudd against Northeastern and throughout the season. Just a true freshman last season, Fudd didn't necessarily have to take that leap, but with solid pieces Christyn Williams, Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Evina Westbrook drafted to the WNBA — this game might reveal if now is the time.
- When: Thursday, Nov. 12 | 6 p.m. ET
- Where to watch: ESPN2
- Top storyline: Reigning champions first test
Coming off its second national championship, No. 1 South Carolina will look to pick up where it left off. The defending champs open their season Monday against East Tennessee State, but the Gamecocks will encounter their first test against No. 17 Maryland.
The Maryland team that made it to the Sweet 16 looks slightly different than the current squad. Last season the Terps were led by a dynamic scoring backcourt of Ashley Owusu and Diamond Miller. Owusu, who lead the team in scoring by just a few tenths of a point, transferred to Virginia Tech.
Maryland may pose as the Gamecocks' first test of the season, but with the roster remaining relatively the same with Aliyah Boston and company, it’ll be a very large test for the Terps, too.