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Amna Subhan | | January 21, 2023

11 women's basketball games in this crucial two-day window that will alter conference races

Undefeated Ohio State continues climb in Power 10 women's basketball rankings

Starting Sunday at noon ET there is around a 36-hour window of games that will be crucial for conference races. They all promise lots of great women's basketball to watch as we hit a crucial run in the season.

Here's everything you need to know for the Sunday and Monday action.

Two Pac-12 tests for two top-10 teams โ€” Sunday, Jan. 22 

No. 4 Stanford and No. 8 Utah squared off Friday, and the Cardinal asserted its dominance beating the Utes, 74-61. 

Now both teams have two individual tests Sunday to keep their standing at the top of the Pac-12. Stanford plays No. 24 Colorado at home and Utah travels to California. 

The Cardinal faces newly ranked Colorado after falling to Southern California last week and then bouncing back against the Utes. The conference loss broke a 39-game streak versus Pac-12 opponents.

The championship-experienced duo of Cameron Brink and Haley Jones came alive, with both scoring 25 points and at least 12 rebounds. Theyโ€™ll face a streaking Buffaloes squad that has won 12 of their last 13 games โ€” and is currently tied with Stanford at the top of the conference standings at 6-1.

Meanwhile, the Utes get an easier test on paper. The Golden Bears have been sliding on a four-game skid which began with a 60-56 loss to Stanford. That was the first crack in the Cardinalโ€™s armor, which led to the conference loss to USC. If Utah can keep up its winning ways the season title could come down to the final game at home to โ€” none other than โ€” Stanford. 

๐Ÿ”ฎ BRACKETOLOGY: The first March Madness women's bracket predictions of 2023

How to watch: 
No. 4 Stanford vs. No. 24 Colorado โ€” 5 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Network
No. 8 Utah at California โ€” 7 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Network 

No. 1 South Carolina tries to remain perfect โ€” Sunday, Jan. 22

Another SEC team will get a crack at undefeated No. 1 South Carolina. This time Arkansas finds itself on the other side of the ring. 

Arkansas, at 17-4, is coming off a 79-76 loss to No. 3 LSU, the other conference team riding a perfect season so far. Earlier in the season, the Razorbacks were in the mix by breaking the AP rankings for a few weeks before falling into a three-game losing streak. 

The 19-0 Gamecocks (19-0), with the largest point differential in the nation, beat opponents by an average of 36.7 points. Earlier this month, the defending champs faced a test against Mississippi State, however, winning by its second-lowest margin this season (7) on Jan. 8. 

South Carolina is led by Aliyah Boston (12.7 ppg, 9.5 rebounds) and Zia Cooke (15.4 ppg, 2.1 assists) and often looks unstoppable. But LSU has done at times as well, and Arkansas pushed the Tigers to the brink relying on a big 30-point, 19-rebound performance from Angel Reese to escape the Razorbacks. 

How to watch
No. 1 South Carolina vs. Arkansas โ€” 3 p.m. ET on ESPN2

All five ranked ACC teams in action โ€” Sunday, Jan. 22

The five ranked ACC teams all play on Sunday, which could lead to some shakeup in the conference if upsets occur. 

It begins with No. 13 Duke hosting a 13-6 Syracuse team. The Blue Devils are coming off a rivalry loss to No. 17 North Carolina but are tied for first in the conference with Notre Dame at 6-1. Syracuse is fourth in the ACC in points scoring 75.6 per contest. 

Next, No. 12 Virginia Tech faces Wake Forest. The Demon Deacons are 2-6 in the ACC and 11-8 overall. But the Hokies canโ€™t afford another upset after falling to Clemson and Miami in the last few weeks to drop to 5-3 in the ACC. 

Elsewhere, No. 20 NC State travels to Louisville. The Wolfpack rebounded after a two-game dip to Florida State and North Carolina to get back to 4-4 in the ACC. Louisville may not be have a ranking, but the Cardinals are only half a game out of first in the conference at 6-2. 

The fourth matchup features No. 7 Notre Dame and Virginia. Both of Notre Dame's two losses this season have been to ranked teams (Maryland and UNC). Though the Irish came close last game, surviving Clemson 57-54. The Cavaliers, however, are 14-5 and could dent the Irish's conference title hopes.

Finally, No. 17 North Carolina takes on Georgia Tech. The Tar Heels have been rolling after a four-game losing streak. North Carolina (4-3 in the ACC) has strung together impressive wins against Notre Dame, Virginia, NC State and Duke.

How to watch: 
No. 13 Duke vs. Syracuse โ€” 12 p.m. ET on ACC Network 
No. 12 Virginia Tech vs. Wake Forest โ€” 1 p.m. ET on ACCNX 
No. 20 NC State at Louisville โ€” 1 p.m. ET on ABC 
No. 7 Notre Dame vs. Virginia โ€” 2 p.m. on ACC Network 
No. 17 North Carolina vs. Georgia Tech โ€” 4 p.m. on ACC Network 

 View the latest women's basketball AP poll

No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Iowa โ€” Monday, Jan. 23 

The undefeated No. 2 Ohio State encounters its greatest conference challenge yet in No. 10 Iowa. 

This Big Ten battle will prove a lot. If the Buckeyes secure the victory, theyโ€™ll improve to 20-0 and would pick up a crucial win against a top Big Ten contender.

If the Hawkeyes win, they'll bolster their standing in the conference and in the country. Iowa has been up and down, falling to unranked teams like Kansas State and Illinois, but it also pulled out some impressive victories over then-No. 10 Iowa State and No. 14 Michigan. A win over the second-ranked team would be transformative. It would also bring Iowa to 8-1 in league play โ€” even with OSU.

The matchup between Caitlin Clark and Taylor Mikesell will be one to watch. Mikesell has steered the ship after Jacy Sheldon went down in November, averaging 18.5 points per game and 40.1% from three. Clark with 26.7 ppg sits third in the nation scoring chart. She has scored at least 20 points in all but one game this season while shooting at a 45.9% clip. 

How to watch
No. 2 Ohio State vs. No. 10 Iowa โ€” 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2

No. 3 LSU at Alabama โ€” Monday, Jan. 23 

No. 3 LSU's undefeated 19-0 record will be on the line at Alabama. The Tigers outlasted a 79-76 scare last outing back by Angel Reeseโ€™s 30 points and 19 rebounds. 

Alabama rides into the matchup on a three-game winning streak. So far, the Crimson Tide has faced only one ranked opponent and will get a chance up against LSU. 

The Tigers are the top scoring team in the country at 88.2 points per game while beating opponents by 36.2 points for the second-best mark nationwide. Reese leads them in points (24.4), rebounds (15.6), steals (1.8) and blocks (1.5). 

Alabama last pulled off a win in 2021 but has lost four of the last five matchups against the Tigers. 

How to watch
No. 3 LSU at Alabama โ€” 7 p.m. ET on SEC Network 

No. 6 Indiana at No. 14 Michigan โ€” Monday, Jan. 23 

To finish off this crazy two-day run in womenโ€™s basketball, No. 6 Indiana takes No. 14 Michigan. 

At 17-1, Indiana has just on loss on its record after falling at Michigan State just before the new year. Michigan has fallen to two ranked opponents and one upset loss to Toledo. 

Michigan has been steady at 14th in the AP poll. The Wolverines are led by a trio of Emily Kiser (17.6 ppg), Laila Phelia (16.7 ppg) and Leigha Brown (15.8), Mackenzie Holmes tops the Hoosiers in points (21.7) and rebounds (8.2).

A win for Michigan and a loss for Ohio State could get Indiana further in the mix for the conference race down the stretch of the season. The reverse could solidify OSU in the driver's seat come March. 

How to watch: 
No. 6 Indiana at No. 14 Michigan โ€” 8 p.m. ET on Big Ten Network


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