3 games to watch in women’s college basketball for Week 1

The women’s college basketball schedule is loaded for the first week of the season. Here are three games you won’t want to miss.

The women’s college basketball season is here! Welcome! Every week, I’m going to be highlighting three must-watch games and explaining why basketball fans should tune in for these matchups.

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 first week of the women’s college basketball season!

3. Northwestern @ No. 20 Oregon

Monday, Nov. 7 — 6:00 p.m. — Pac-12 Oregon

This year, the season starts on a Monday, and many of the ranked teams are in action. Of the preseason top 25, 17 will play on this day, with games starting early with No. 8 Iowa State and No. 22 Nebraska both in action at noon, though not against each other. Of the 17 teams, two face off, when No. 21 Creighton faces No. 23 South Dakota State. Unfortunately, that one’s streaming on something called Midco Sports Plus, so I won’t recommend you spend $5.99 just for this game. Instead, maybe I can interest you a game happening two hours earlier, as Oregon hosts Northwestern.

Northwestern might not be one of the top Big Ten teams, but they’ve finished over .500 for four consecutive seasons and have some really talented players. One big question: who steps up to replace Veronica Burton’s production? Maybe it’ll be Courtney Shaw, who was second on the team in scoring last year.

But the big reason to watch this game: to see what Oregon is this year. Sedona Prince has to have elbow surgery and will miss the season, but there’s still a ton of talent on this team, plus some really good young players, with freshmen Chance Gray and Grace VanSlooten joining the team. Can the 6-foot-3 VanSlooten help shore up the frontcourt? And will this be the year that guard Te-Hina Paopao really breaks out — she averaged 13.6 points and 3.4 assists per game last year.

No. 5 Tennessee @ No. 14 Ohio State

Tuesday, Nov. 8 — 8:30 p.m. — Big Ten Network

Always fun to see an early matchup of two really talented teams, and we get that on Monday with Ohio State hosting Tennessee.

Both of these teams have talent up and down the roster, but the big matchup to watch here is in the backcourt. Tennesee’s Jordan Horston is from Columbus, and last season she averaged 16.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game. She’s ranked in the 96th percentile or better in assists in all three of her seasons.

And on the Ohio State side, there’s Jacy Sheldon, who averaged 19.7 points and 4.2 assists per game last year, plus 1.9 steals. She does a great job at getting into the paint, averaging 5.5 attempts at the rim last season while also shooting 36.6 percent from 3.

Of course, Tennessee has the advantage at other spots. 6-foot-6 Tamari Key is one of the best centers in the country, while forward Rickea Jackson has a chance to be a lottery pick in next year’s WNBA Draft. Jackson makes her Lady Vols debut in this one after coming over from Mississippi State, where she averaged 20.3 points per game in 15 appearances last year before she left the program.

No. 1 South Carolina @ No. 17 Maryland

Friday, Nov. 11 — 6:00 p.m. — ESPN2

You should never miss a chance to watch the best team in the country play basketball.

There are probably going to be a lot of chances to talk about South Carolina all season and to highlight all the various parts of their team, but let’s take this first week to talk about Aliyah Boston, the best player in the country. No player anchors her team’s frontcourt like Boston. Offensively, she shot 67.9 percent at the rim on 5.8 attempts last season Defensively, she ranked in the 98th percentile in CBB Analytics’ Hakeem Percentage, which combines block and steal rate.

Maryland, meanwhile, has lost some of the big names that have led the team over the last few years, with Katie Benzan, Chloe Bibby and Ashley Owusu all gone. But Diamond Miller is back and gets a chance to be the team’s No. 1 option. She took a bit of a step back last year, dropping from 17.3 points per game down to 13.1, and from 50.6 percent shooting to 40.8 percent. But if she can get some of that efficiency back while increasing her usage, she can be one of the highest scorers in the country.

Other women’s college basketball games to watch

  • No. 21 Creighton @ No. 23 South Dakota State – Monday, Nov. 7, 8:00 p.m. – Midco Sports Plus
  • Jackson State @ No. 12 North Carolina – Wednesday, Nov. 9, 7:00 p.m. – ACC Network Extra
  • No. 21 Creighton @ South Dakota – Thursday, Nov. 10, 8:00 p.m. – Midco Sports Plus
  • TCU @ No. 12 North Carolina – Saturday, Nov. 12, 1:00 p.m. – ACC Network Extra
  • No. 4 Iowa @ Drake – Sunday, Nov. 12, 3:00 p.m. – Big Ten Plus

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