NCAAW what to watch: No. 18 Arizona vs. No. 10 UCLA likely battle of Pac-12 unbeatens

Arizona Wildcats guard Aari McDonald seeks to keep her team perfect against fellow undefeated squad UCLA. (Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Conference play is fully underway now and there is no shortage of thrilling games to watch. Syracuse’s overtime buzzer-beating victory against Florida State on Thursday was the second top-25 upset of the week after Maryland’s shocker to Northwestern.

Her Hoop Stats found “parity” is not just a buzz word this season by analyzing the AP poll, Non-Scully metric and its own ratings formula in its latest newsletter.

The full weekend schedule, including where to watch, is here.

No. 2 Oregon (10-1, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. Colorado (12-0, 1-0 Pac-12)

Friday at 10 p.m ET on Pac-12 Networks

Four of the nine undefeated teams in the country reside in the Pac-12 and two will fall out of that group this weekend. One could do it early. Undefeated Colorado will first travel to No. 2 Oregon on Friday night and then to undefeated No. 3 Oregon State (12-0, 0-0 Pac-12) on Sunday.

The Ducks are the heavy favorite in their conference opener, but are in the “What to Watch” conversation for some records that will likely fall.

Ruthy Hebard is 15 points away from becoming the 12th Pac-12 player in history to reach 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds. She would become the second player so far this season to hit 2,000 points, joining her fellow star teammate.

Sabrina Ionescu, who reached 2,000 points on Nov. 13, is seven assists away from becoming the 12th woman in NCAA history with 900 assists. She reached 800 assists that same game.

She’s on pace to become the first player in NCAA history — men’s and women’s — to reach 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 1,000 assists. The senior currently has 2,149 points, 859 rebounds and 893 assists.

The Ducks host Utah (7-5, 0-1 Pac-12) at 5 p.m. ET on Sunday. Both Oregon games air on the Pac-12 Network.

No. 8 Florida State (13-1, 2-1 ACC) at No. 23 Miami (9-4, 1-1 ACC)

Sunday at 2 p.m. on ACCX

It was a tough trip back to Florida late Thursday for both of these teams, so they’ll be looking to bounce back from their first conference losses when they meet Sunday.

Miami relinquished an 11-point fourth quarter lead to Georgia Tech (11-2, 2-0 ACC), ranked second in the nation in scoring defense (45.6 points), to lose 61-54.The Hurricanes’ other three losses are to highly ranked opponents in DePaul, Oregon State and Indiana.

The Yellow Jackets succeeded in keeping Beatrice Mompremier off the books on Thursday. The All-American averages 16.9 points and 10.6 rebounds per game and came into the Thursday match-up with four consecutive double-doubles of her seven total this season. She had only nine points and eight rebounds and took a mere six shots. The Hurricanes will need to get her more opportunities if they have a chance against Florida State.

It was an incredible nightcap to the ACC slate on Thursday. The Seminoles had a program best start to the season, but ran into a Syracuse squad that is more dangerous than its record — and even stats — suggest. FSU lost in overtime, 90-89.

SU’s Digna Strautmane hit a 3-pointer to send the game into extras, despite a poor showing by the Orange behind the arc. They were 8 of 33 (24.2 percent) and at missed 14 in a row up until Strautmane’s two 3s in the final minute.

A hard-fought bucket down low by Florida State star Kiah Gillespie, who finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds in 43 minutes, put FSU up by one with eight-tenths of a second in OT. Syracuse head coach Quentin Hillsman used a play he wrote up on a napkin one time. And it was perfect.

The Seminoles had trouble getting the ball in to Gillespie late in the game, even when she was clearly open and calling for it. They also struggled at the free throw line (24 of 38), especially late, and it ended up hurting them in the end. The AP poll voters will probably knock them for losing to an unranked squad, but shouldn’t given Syracuse’s talent and strength of schedule.

''We've played two No. 1 teams in the country. This wasn't a shock to us,'' Hillsman said, via the Associated Press.

Florida State scores on average 10 more points per game than Miami and allows five fewer. It’s the only team to rank top-five in the major conference statistical categories while Miami ranks toward the bottom in all but rebounds.

No. 18 Arizona (12-0, 1-0 Pac-12) at No. 10 UCLA (12-0, 1-0 Pac-12)

Sunday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2

Arizona and UCLA are the other two undefeated Pac-12 teams and both won their conference opener last week (Arizona in a tight one, 58-53, against Arizona State and UCLA against USC). Since both teams play Friday night, it’s not guaranteed this will be a battle of the unbeatens. Arizona travels to USC (8-4, 0-1 Pac-12) and UCLA hosts Arizona State (10-3, 0-1 Pac-12).

Both teams have their best-ever start to the season due in part to the offense’s top-30 ranked points per 100 possessions and ability to keep opponents’ down in that category. The Wildcats are also riding an 18-game win streak, the longest in the nation currently, dating back to the 2019 WNIT.

Arizona ranks 30th in points per possession at 103.7, per Her Hoop Stats, and is second in opponents points per possession (63.8). They score on average 72.5 and allow a nation’s best 44.4 points, though the Wildcats’ non-conference schedule wasn’t particularly challenging. The only opponent with fewer than four losses at this point is Arizona State.

UCLA scores at a similar rate, ranking 27th in points per 100 possession at 104.3, per Her Hoop Stats. Defensively, they rank 20th by allowing opponents 76.3 per 100 possessions, per Her Hoop Stats.

Arizona is led in points by junior Aari McDonald at 19.9 points per game. She fouled out against the Sun Devils, the first in her collegiate career. UCLA is led by fellow junior Michaela Onyenwere at 19.8 points per game.

No. 22 Tennessee (11-2, 1-0 SEC) at No. 18 Kentucky (11-2, 0-1 SEC)

Sunday at 4 p.m. on ESPN2

Tennessee opened its schedule Thursday evening with a 77-66 victory against Missouri while Kentucky attempted to level-up with No. 4 South Carolina. The Gamecocks (13-1, 1-0 SEC) are the team to beat in the Southeastern Conference, powered by a No. 1 recruiting class that shined brilliantly in its conference opener.

Kentucky fell behind by 12 after one and 21 by halftime, eventually falling 99-72 on the road.

“We got rattled early against a real tough physical defense. Just a good team, with really good athletes,” Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell said, via the Associated Press. “We were just kind of back on our heels all night long and had a hard time finding rhythm.”

South Carolina shot 61 percent and outscored Kentucky, 60-24, in the paint. All-American Rhyne Howard scored 28 points, but committed six turnovers, and the Wildcats couldn’t find any help around her. The 6-foot-2 guard averages 20.9.

A matchup against Tennessee is a little kinder, though they’re evenly matched in Her Hoops Stats ratings. Both are scoring on average around 74 points and keep opponents to an average 54. Rebecca Lobo broke down the game for “Lobo’s Look” at Her Hoop Stats this week.

Tennessee shoots at a percent clip and keeps opponents to a lower one. Junior Rennia Davis has lifted the Volunteers, averaging 16.5 points per game and 8.8 rebounds per game.

Ohio State (8-5, 1-1 Big Ten) at No. 12* Maryland (10-3, 1-1 Big Ten)

Monday at 7 p.m. on ESPN2

The AP poll will see a shake-up when it’s released Monday given Maryland’s 81-58 loss to Northwestern (12-0, 2-1 Big Ten) on Tuesday. The Terrapins were off over the weekend and return to host Ohio State, another dangerous Big Ten opponent, at home on Monday evening.

The Wildcats won by holding the Terps 28 points below their season average of 86.5, forcing a season-high 24 turnovers and keeping them from making a 3-pointer until the fourth quarter. Senior Big Ten preseason player of the year selection Kaila Charles was contained to 10 points.

Ohio State ranks top-50 in steals (129), but will have a large hill to climb against the Terps’ top-10 ranked offense and defense.

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