NCAAW what to watch: 2-Oregon, 3-Oregon State travel to 18-Arizona; how much more chaos awaits?

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Cassandra Negley
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Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu, left, drives to the basket as Colorado's Aubrey Knight defends during the second quarter of an NCAA college basketball game in Eugene, Ore., Friday, Jan. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
Sabrina Ionescu and the Oregon Ducks will try to avoid the upsets that took over women's college basketball Thursday. (AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)

The upheaval that went down Thursday evening has set a larger stage for the weekend’s packed schedule, which includes a trip to the state of Arizona for No. 2 Oregon and No. 3 Oregon State. It’s worth it to take a quick look back first as it could be a week that all three of the top ranked teams in the Associated Press poll lose.

Six ranked teams lost, including three of the six ranked in the top 10 that played Thursday night. And two of the final remaining undefeated teams (UConn, N.C. State) lost, leaving two left (Oregon State, UCLA).

Six ranked teams lose heading into weekend

No. 1 UConn loses to No. 6 Baylor, 74-58

The biggest name to drop on Thursday was No. 1 UConn, a game that will get coined an “upset” but certainly doesn’t feel like it. Baylor is the reigning champion and fell down the rankings in large part because Lauren Cox missed time due to a right foot injury. The Huskies, meanwhile, rose due to some losses ahead of them and arguably because of who they are. Even head coach Geno Auriemma and assistant Chris Dailey questioned if they were truly the best in the country.

No. 9 N.C. State loses to North Carolina, 66-60

The Tar Heels knocked off a highly ranked and undefeated N.C. State team for the second year in a row. They rallied from 12 down in the third quarter, took the lead early in the fourth and held on for dear life down the stretch.

No. 10 Texas A&M loses to LSU, 57-54

The Aggies could be in more trouble than taking the “L.” Two-time All-American guard Chennedy Carter left in the first quarter with a left ankle injury, though coach Gary Blair said she’ll be ready for No. 14 Kentucky next Thursday.

No. 11 Florida State loses to Georgia Tech, 67-52

Don’t over look the ACC. The Yellow Jackets haven’t made it to the AP poll, but defeated another ranked team this week in part by scoring 20 points off of 21 Seminoles turnovers. It’s another loss to an unranked ACC opponent for FSU.

No. 17 Maryland loses to Iowa, 66-61

The Terps won the rebounding battle, 59-35, but once again struggled with their shot. They were 26 of 84 (31.0 percent), including 4 of 25 (16.0 percent) from 3-point range, and made 5 of 13 (38.5 percent) free throws.

No. 24 Michigan loses to Ohio State, 78-69

And finally, Ohio State added another big win — and Michigan another lump — by hitting 11 of 22 3-pointers in their only regular season meeting of the year.

A milestone note for the weekend. Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer is one win away from her 500th regular-season conference victory. She would become the first coach to win 500 in a single league in women’s basketball. The Cardinal take on Cal in a home-and-away over the weekend. VanDerveer is 499-78 in the regular season and 1,080-248 overall, 18 wins from tying Pat Summitt’s all-time record.

Now on to the biggest games of the weekend, which mostly take place an hour apart in Tucson and Tempe, Arizona.

No. 3 Oregon State (14-0, 2-0 Pac-12) at No. 18 Arizona (13-1, 2-1 Pac-12)

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

The Wildcats will find out how far there is to go this weekend when No. 3 Oregon State and No. 2 Oregon make a trip to Tucson. Their last game was a loss to No. 10 UCLA that snapped a 19-game winning streak and their best start in program history.

The Wildcats shot 33.3 percent against UCLA, whereas they averaged around 45.70 percent going into the game (ranking 28th in the country). Aari McDonald averages 20.1 points per game, best in the conference.

Their strongest skill is defense, ranking first in opponents points per game (47.1) and third in opponents’ field goal percentage (31.0 percent). That’s mainly keeping down the 2-point shooting, not the 3.

Oregon State has won the last 11 meetings against Arizona, dating back to 2012, and has one of the best offenses in the nation. The Beavers average 77.4 points per game (20th), shoot at a 49 percent clip (3rd) and average 1.16 points per scoring attempt (third), all via Her Hoop Stats. They average 19.1 assists per game (18th), led by 5.5 on average from Mikayla Pivec.

Pivec averages a double-double of 15.4 points and 10.1 rebounds per game in 32.4 minutes on the floor. She’s shooting 57.4 percent. Destiny Slocum averages 14.6 points and Taylor Jones averages 14.3, shooting 61.5 percent (12th in NCAA), with 7.7 rebounds.

Pivec and Slocum were named to the Wooden Award midseason top 25 watch list on Thursday as was Arizona’s McDonald.

Oregon State will play at Arizona State (11-4, 1-2 Pac-12) at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday. The Sun Devils are also a defensive-minded team, though not to the level of Arizona or Oregon State. They did hold Arizona to the Wildcats’ lowest point total of the season.

Their success is by steals and on the glass, where they ranked third in offensive rebounds per game (17.8), though 199th in defensive rebounds per game. The numbers are flipped for the Beavers.

No. 2 Oregon (12-1, 2-0 Pac-12) at No. 18 Arizona (13-1, 2-1 Pac-12)

Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on Pac-12

After facing Arizona State on Friday, Oregon will take on Arizona on Sunday. And the Wildcats will have their hands full defending the 3-pointer.

Oregon ranks second in the conference behind Oregon State, shooting 36.4 percent; coach Kelly Graves wants to see that be better after leading the nation in the category last season. They’re currently 31st.

Oregon freshman guard Jaz Shelley shoots 44.3 percent from 3-point range, ranking 25th in the nation, while Sabrina Ionescu (15.6 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 8.8 apg), Erin Boley and Satou Sabally (14.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg) have been struggling at it relative to last season’s success.

If Boley can find her shot from outside, she’ll make the Ducks that much more difficult to guard, as U.S. national team star Sue Bird attested to on ESPN’s broadcast Thursday night.

There is little the Ducks don’t do well as gathered from Lobo’s Look at Her Hoops Stats. The major blemish is free throws and getting to the line. They’re second in field goal percentage (50.3), and first from inside the arc (59.9).

Ruthy Hebard is shooting 69.7 percent (second in NCAA) and averages a team-high 17.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.

Hebard, Ionescu and Sabally were named to the Wooden midseason watch list. Ionescu is the reigning award winner.

No. 17 Maryland (11-4, 2-2 Big Ten) at No. 24 Michigan

Sunday at 12 p.m. on ESPN2

There is no doubt at this point that Maryland is not living up to the expectations placed upon it at the beginning of the season. The Terps have lost to two of the three ranked teams they’ve faced. The fourth is Michigan, which they beat, 70-55, on Dec. 28. Their other two losses are against teams that received votes in the polls and it came within the past 10 days: Northwestern and Iowa. An earlier season win against James Madison, another team receiving votes, was pulled out at the last minutes.

Both of these teams need to right the ship after conference losses on Thursday, but Maryland really needs to put it together. Kaila Charles will need to be as good as she was the first go-around for Maryland. The Wooden award list senior guard had 23 points and 11 rebounds.

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