There are two weekends remaining in the regular season and teams are making their final plays for seeding in their conference tournaments — top four seeds come with double-byes — and in the NCAA Tournament.
No. 4 Stanford, which returned to the Associated Press top five rankings for the first time in five weeks, will host No. 15 Oregon State and No. 3 Oregon. The rematch with the Ducks is part of a doubleheader “Big Monday” on ESPN2.
The top end of that night is an ACC rematch between No. 10 N.C. State and Duke, which has surged of late and rattled off five in a row since its last meeting with the Wolfpack. That includes an upset of Florida State in a jumbled ACC race.
Here is the schedule, with results as they come, and what to watch in five of the weekend’s (plus Monday’s) biggest games.
No. 15 Oregon State (19-7, 7-7) at No. 4 Stanford (23-3, 12-2)
Friday, 11 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Network
The Beavers come into this one on a three-game losing streak, it’s second of the season, with losses to current No. 11 Arizona, unranked USC and No. 8 UCLA.
“It’s really frustrating when we’ve been so close so many times,” guard Mikayla Pivec said after Monday’s loss to UCLA, via The Oregonian. “The little things have beaten us. We haven’t made the plays down the stretch to beat a good team consistently.”
In the UCLA game, they were already without Kennedy Brown when Destiny Slocum sprained her ankle in the second quarter and was taken to the locker room. She returned and the team forced overtime, where Pivec and Taylor Jones both fouled out to essential end it. The Bruins never trailed in overtime and came back from a 14-point third-quarter deficit.
The Beavers will have a chance to not only get in the win column, but strengthen a shot at hosting the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament. They have Stanford and Cal on the road, then Washington and Washington State at home to close out the schedule before it becomes an even more difficult stretch in the Pac-12 Tournament.
In the last meeting, Stanford prevailed 61-58. Slocum led all scorers with 26 points and Pivec added 10. Kiana Williams scored 17 and freshman Ashten Pretchel had a double-double for Stanford.
ESPN’s Charlie Creme has Oregon State hosting in the Tulane bracket in his latest Bracketology.
No. 1 South Carolina (26-1, 13-0) at No. 14 Kentucky (20-5, 9-4)
Sunday, 2 p.m. on ESPN2
No. 1 South Carolina isn’t in too much danger of losing its top spot as the regular season finishes. First up is Kentucky, which the Gamecocks defeated at home, 99-72, early in the year. Rhyne Howard scored 28 for the Wildcats, but didn’t get much help otherwise.
South Carolina earns most of its points in the paint — it bested Kentucky, 60-24, in that area — but showed against UConn it can drop back to shoot the 3-pointer if needed. The Gamecocks are still top five in points per game (83.2), rebounds per game (47.8) and blocks (8.4, ranked first), via Her Hoop Stats. They’re also one of the best defensive teams inside the arc, holding opponents to 34.2 percent shooting from two (ranked second).
South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley was named as one of 15 remaining candidates for the Naismith Women’s Coach of the Year award. If she wins, she would become the first person to win both the Coach of the Year Award and the Player of the Year Award. She won the POY in 1991 and 1992 while with Virginia.
No. 18 Florida State (21-5, 10-5) at Georgia Tech (17-10, 8-8)
Sunday, 4 p.m. ET on ACC Network
Georgia Tech has lost some games it should have won, but it’s also provided a number of upsets and victories over ranked teams. Early on it lost to Miami and beat then-11th ranked Florida State. Last weekend it beat N.C. State and Thursday night it lost to Louisville. The Cardinals pulled away to keep the top spot in the ACC.
Georgia Tech will get another shot at taking down the Seminoles on Sunday, its third ranked opponent in as many outings. When these two teams met in Tallahassee in early January, the Yellow Jackets jumped out to a 10-4 lead and never looked back, winning 67-52.
Four Georgia Tech starters finished in double-digits and the team survived a 3-of-15 second-quarter. Florida State senior Kiah Gillespie was kept to eight points and one rebound, down from her averages of 15.5 and 8.8, respectively.
The Yellow Jackets are on the bubble for the NCAA tournament and have only Clemson left on the schedule before the ACC tournament tips off in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Florida State is still on the fringe of hosting duties and is still trying to hold on to a bye for the conference tournament. It should win out the regular season and will need to in order to guarantee a top four seed in the ACC tournament.
Duke (16-10, 10-5) at No. 10 N.C. State (23-3, 12-3)
Monday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2
The Duke of February is not the Duke of December. The Blue Devils have won five in a row to join Florida State and Virginia Tech at 10-5 in the conference. They trail Louisville (13-2) and North Carolina State (12-3) in the standings.
They’re surging at the right time, coming back from a 1-3 record to start the ACC slate and numerous blowouts in non-conference play. All five of their ACC losses have come within a five-point margin.
Haley Gorecki paces the offense, averaging 18 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. She became the first Duke player to lead the team in all three categories last year.
Leaonna Odom has stepped up to averaged 14.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. The senior forward is shooting 54.7 percent, 33rd in the nation.
In their first meeting in Durham on Feb. 2, Duke held the Wolfpack to a season-low 23 points and forced 15 turnovers in the first half. N.C. State’s Grace Hunter hit two 3-pointers in the final minutes to push the Wolfpack to a 63-60 victory.
Elissa Cunane, whose play has determined how games have gone for N.C. State, scored 27 in that one and made 11 of 13 free throws. She averages 16.7 points, 10 rebounds and 6.4 free-throw attempts per game.
Gorecki led Duke with 21 points, seven rebounds and three assists. It took seven free throws collectively and struggled shooting in the fourth quarter.
In Charlie Creme’s latest Bracketology for ESPN, N.C. State moved down to a No. 3 seed, and Duke moved up to a No. 9 seed. The Blue Devils would be in the Dallas bracket with Baylor looming in the second round.
No. 3 Oregon (24-2, 13-1) at No. 4 Stanford (23-3, 12-2)
Monday, 9 p.m. on ESPN2
Oregon can clinch its third consecutive Pac-12 regular season title with a victory over Stanford on Monday night. It would also mean a top seed in the conference tournament, a huge get in a conference with six top 25-ranked squads.
The Ducks continue to tear through the back end of a difficult schedule, besting then-seventh-ranked UCLA and USC by a combined 40 points last weekend. In their Jan. 16 tilt against Stanford at home, Sabrina Ionescu dropped a career-high 37 points on 14-of-26 shooting and 5-of-12 from behind the 3-point line, all of which were season highs. She added 11 rebounds and seven assists in the 97-55 win.
Satou Sabally had a double-double; Ruthy Jebard and Minyon Moore scored in double digits; and the entire team forced 18 Stanford turnovers. The Cardinal was outrebounded 35-26, outscored in the paint 32-24, and beaten in second-chance points 15-4.
Stanford survived Colorado, leading to one of the more complexing movements in the AP top 25 poll that was released Monday. The Cardinal should have built a sizable lead against the Buffaloes (15-10, 4-10), but instead went to overtime in the first match-up this year and nearly did it again in the second.
The Cardinal is in danger of losing its No. 2 seed in the conference tournament to UCLA (11-3 Pac-12) and Arizona (10-4). It closes with No. 11 Arizona and No. 21 Arizona State next weekend. It will take a full team performance for some needed wins and momentum for the tournaments.
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