Everything that’s been happening in women’s college basketball while you’ve been busy.
The 2022-23 season is off and running. As we reach Feast Week and the holiday tournaments, there’s already a lot to dig into.
If your head is spinning and you need to get up to speed with all things women’s college basketball, you’ve come to the right place.
Just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday, our NCAAW team of Cole Huff and Mitchell Northam give a rundown of which players and teams are already standing out in a positive way, which are off to surprisingly slow starts, some of the early season’s most memorable performances and what to watch for in the near future.
Previewing Sunday’s college basketball matchup between Stanford and South Carolina.
Do you enjoy watching basketball played at its absolute peak? If so, Sunday’s women’s college basketball game between No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks and No. 2 Stanford Cardinal should do more than settle your basketball appetite.
The clash of the NCAA’s best will check off many boxes that include the future stars of the WNBA, some of the top recruits from recent high school classes and better yet, a showdown between two teams that recently reached college basketball’s mountaintop.
We dive into it all ahead of Sunday’s potential national championship preview. Here’s what to watch for, a brief history of the two and how to watch.
The sports teams at Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia have one of the fiercest rivalries in all of college athletics. But sometimes, those competitive feelings must be set aside. When the dust settles after a matchup between the ‘Hoos and Hokies, these people are brothers and sisters – and Virginians.
So, when something unimaginably awful happened Sunday night in Charlottesville – where three UVA football players were shot and killed by a former member of the team – folks in the athletic department at Virginia Tech felt they needed to do something.
Specifically, Virginia Tech’s women’s basketball team and coach Kenny Brooks wanted to show UVA support before the Hokies’ game on Monday night.
In a gesture of empathy that also displayed class and respect, Virginia Tech wore warm-up t-shirts honoring the victims before its game against USC Upstate.
In orange lettering on white shirts, the message read: “#HokiesForHoos.” Underneath that was the football jersey numbers of each player whose life was taken: 1 for Lavel Davis Jr., 15 for Devin Chandler, and 41 for D’Sean Perry.
Virginia Tech was the only women’s basketball team from the Commonwealth of Virginia scheduled to play Monday night.
According to a Virginia Tech spokesperson, Brooks had the idea of doing something with the Hokies warmups, and the whole women’s basketball staff and managers jumped into action Monday morning. Erin Cash – the athletic trainer for the women’s basketball team – used her Cricut machine and designed the shirts with the help of students Katie Schiefer and Barrett Amott.
Equipment manager Kendall Dillard acquired the Nike shirts and applied the design with the help of Erik Lewis, the senior director of equipment services for Virginia Tech.
Tim Clark, Chase Sanchez and Maddie Bailey also helped in making the t-shirts a reality.
“It was a true team effort to accomplish in the span of about four hours,” said Carter Brown, director of creative communications for the Hokies.
Brooks released a statement earlier Monday, saying, “Our hearts go out to the University of Virginia and the city of Charlottesville. Today we come together as one community. We must show love, compassion and unity. The Virginia Tech women’s basketball program sends its unwavering love and support and are praying for all those who were affected by the senseless acts that occurred last night.”
Brooks is a lifelong Virginian who was born in Waynesboro and played at James Madison. He coached the Dukes for 14 seasons before taking the job at Virginia Tech in 2016.
The suspected Charlottesville shooter is in police custody. Two other unnamed victims are being treated for injuries.
The Fever will get to pick first in the 2023 WNBA Draft.
Friday’s WNBA Draft Lottery landed the Indiana Fever the first pick of the 2023 WNBA Draft, with the Minnesota Lynx, Atlanta Dream and Washington Mystics rounding out the rest of the lottery in that order.
If it holds onto the pick, Indiana will have its first No. 1 selection in franchise history and a chance to draft a franchise-changing player.
That franchise-changing player is widely assumed to be South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, whose college basketball resume includes a national championship, Final Four Most Outstanding Player, Naismith National Player of the Year and National Defensive Player of the Year honors, among many others.
Some other prospects that projected to be chosen in the lottery include Stanford’s Haley Jones, Maryland’s Diamond Miller and UCLA’s Charisma Osborne.
It wasn’t the greatest start for No. 14 Ohio State in Tuesday’s season opener against No. 5 Tennessee, but it couldn’t have ended much better.
The Buckeyes forced 17 second-half turnovers (29 for the game!), including 11 in the third quarter to erase an eight-point halftime deficit and easily cover as 3.5-point favorites with a 87-75 victory.
It was the type of emphatic win to make you take a peek at their national title odds, which remain unchanged after the game at DraftKings at +5000.
Those odds still trail Tennessee (+800), which has the fourth-shortest in the country behind South Carolina (+150), Stanford (+500) and Iowa (+700). But the Lady Vols had zero answers for Ohio State’s 2-2-1 press defense.
Early in the game, the Buckeyes appeared to be outsized on the interior in the half court and settled for outside shots that didn’t fall. However, they turned Tennessee’s turnovers into transition foul opportunities to stay in the game.
Once they found their shooting touch in the second half and started to lock down defensively, the game quickly got out of hand. Led by Taylor Mikesell, who finished with a game-high 25 points, Ohio State made 6-of-13 threes in the second half, outscoring Tennessee by 20.
Despite the big win, Ohio State’s title odds are just tied for 14th. It’s still too early to call them a contender, but it’s never too early to sprinkle something on a team that can defend like that.
The #5 Tennessee Volunteers will open up the 2022 season on the road to face the #14 Ohio State Buckeyes in NCAA women’s college basketball.
The #5 Tennessee Volunteers will open up the 2022-23 season on the road to face the #14 Ohio State Buckeyes in NCAA women’s college basketball.
Tennessee is coming off a 17-8 season last year as they look to start the year off strong but it won’t be an easy task with a tough game to begin the season. Meanwhile, Ohio State is coming off a 13-7 record overall last year and will be thinking about an upset in their first game of the season tonight.
This will be a great opening day for college hoops, here is everything you need to know to watch and stream the game.
NCAA Basketball odds courtesy of Tipico Sportsbook. Odds last updated Tuesday at 1:15 p.m. ET.
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Last April, 4.85 million people tuned in to watch South Carolina beat UConn in Minneapolis for the national championship in women’s college basketball. According to ESPN, it was the most-watched season finale in the sport since 2004, and the early round games were the most-consumed on-record.
We don’t have the data, but it’s easy to assume that a large chunk of those folks watching the women in last spring’s March Madness were wagering cold hard cash on those games too. Forbes reported last year that Americans were expected to spend $3.1 billion in betting on the men’s tournament. Surely, there had to be some crossover.
On Monday, when the 2022-23 college basketball season began, one could easily find odds on a plethora of men’s games for the day – from matchups like Coppin State vs. Charlotte (-10), to La Salle vs. No. 16 Villanova (-15), to Howard vs. No. 4 Kentucky (-25.5).
BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, Caesars – they all had them.
But those same popular American sportsbooks had hardly any lines posted for women’s basketball games on opening day. DraftKings posted lines for eight games Monday afternoon, but well after several games tipped off at 11 a.m. EST.
It’s incredibly disappointing. It’s not only a major missed opportunity by these books, but it’s an example of – from media coverage to betting – how women’s sports are treated unfairly and unequally when compared to men’s sports. According to a study from USC and Purdue released last year, women’s sports received about only 5% of total media coverage. As legal sports gambling has grown in popularity, that disparity is showing up there too.
Furthermore, the matchups in women’s college basketball during the opening week are a lot more compelling than the men’s.
No men’s team ranked in the preseason AP Top 25 Poll is playing another ranked opponent until NEXT TUESDAY, Nov. 15, when No. 7 Duke meets No. 5 Kansas in Indianapolis, Indiana. That’s a pretty boring way to start a season off, no?
Meanwhile, the women’s slate features several interesting ranked matchups that could entice bettors in its first week of play, including:
No. 21 Creighton at No. 23 South Dakota State – Nov. 7
No. 5 Tennessee at No. 14 Ohio State – Nov. 8
No. 1 South Carolina at No. 17 Maryland – Nov. 11
No. 11 Indiana at No. 5 Tennessee – Nov. 14
No. 3 Texas at No. 6 UConn – Nov. 14
No. 22 Nebraska at No. 21 Creighton – Nov. 15
One of the lines DraftKings does have is for that Creighton versus South Dakota State matchup. The JackRabbits are favored by 2.5 points.
The good news is that at least one other sportsbook does have lines on women’s college basketball – Tipico. If you are so inclined, you can check those out while the others play catch-up. And a few of the main sportsbooks have futures odds, at least. Check out our bold predictions before putting your money down on, say, Virginia Tech +4000.
But it feels like there’s more parity in the sport this year too. The ACC seems to be wide open after N.C. State graduated four starters, so perhaps Jeff Walz can help Louisville slide into the top spot after a Final Four run last year. Like its men’s team, UNC is ranked in the preseason Top 25 Poll, and the odds for Virginia Tech to surge to a national championship are enticing.
What will be the top four seeds in the NCAA Tournament?
Mitchell Northam: South Carolina, Stanford, Iowa, Louisville
Cole Huff: South Carolina, N.C. State, Stanford, Tennessee
What will be the best mid-major team in the country?
Mitchell: Princeton – The Tigers bring back four starters and 70.7% of their returning scoring from last season and haven’t lost an Ivy League game since 2019. As shown by its preseason ranking in the AP Top 25 Poll, Princeton isn’t just a good mid-major team; it’s one of the best teams in the country. They’ll miss Abby Meyers, who transferred to Maryland, but this group still has Ivy League Tournament MVP Kaitlyn Chen and Ivy Defensive Player of the Year Ellie Mitchell. The Tigers were third in the nation last season in points allowed per 100 possessions. That’s a defense that can power them well into March.
Cole: South Dakota State – What you’re getting with the 2022-23 Jackrabbits is a WNIT championship-winning roster that returns its top-four scorers from a season ago. Before capturing the WNIT title, the Jackrabbits were a win away (the Summit League Final) from reaching the NCAA Tournament. Nevertheless, SDSU should be out for revenge this season and will have additional help Utah transfer Dru Gylten, who should be one of the best floor generals in the conference. I like these Jackrabbits as the best mid-major in the country.
Who will win the Lieberman Award for the best point guard in the country?
Mitchell: Diamond Johnson, N.C. State – The last time Diamond Johnson was a starter – in the 2020-21 season for Rutgers – she put up numbers that no player in the HerHoopStats era (since 2009) has ever matched. You can take a closer look at the criteria here, but in short, Johnson was essentially the only player from a Power 5 team to post a 50-40-90 season. Last year, Johnson came off the bench and was voted ACC Sixth Player of the Year as N.C. State won its third straight conference title and made the Elite Eight. After four starters graduated, the Wolfpack are now Johnson’s team.
Cole: Olivia Miles, Notre Dame – During her true freshman season (2021-22) Olivia Miles looked every bit as good as the prospect she was hyped up to be. She walked right into the ACC, as a teenager, and became the driving force behind a team who made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament’s Sweet 16. She’s got the size to create matchup problems for opposing defenses and that’s before factoring the presumed refinement to her offensive game in Year 2. Any improvement to her 3-point shooting and general turnover issues (3.8 per game) should add to what was already one of the nation’s best passers (7.4 assists per game). I’ve got the Fighting Irish winning the ACC this season, and it’ll be because Olivia Miles will separate herself as the best point guard in the world.
Will anyone other than Aliyah Boston win National Player of the Year?
Mitchell: No. – Boston has been the most dominant player in this sport for at least the past two years. She’s started in every game she’s played in for the Gamecocks and is shooting 54.2% from the floor for her career while averaging a double-double. Last season, Boston was the only player in the country to rank in the top five of both offensive rating (131.3) and defensive rating (63.6), according to HerHoopStats. As long as Boston is on the floor, she’s the best player in the country.
Cole: No. – For all of the reasons that Mitchell mentioned above — she’s just so good. Also, Aliyah is a friend of the site! She spoke with us here at For The Win about her partnership with Orangetheory.
Which team that made the NCAA Tournament last year won’t make it this year?
Mitchell: Florida State – Aside from the COVID year in 2020, the Seminoles have missed the NCAA Tournament just once since 2005. Indeed, Sue Semrau’s run there was pretty remarkable. But, on paper, it seems unlikely that FSU is going to have the talent to go dancing in Brooke Wyckoff’s first season with the interim tag removed. If you remember, FSU just snuck into the tournament field last season, and they were powered by Morgan Jones, who was the Seminoles only double-digit scorer at 13.8 points per game. Jones is now at Louisville, and FSU’s third-best rebounder and fifth-best scorer – River Baldwin – transferred to N.C. State. And the only player on the team last season who made at least one 3-pointer per game – Sammie Puisis – transferred to USF. Florida State didn’t really go out of its way to reload either, bringing in just one transfer and two freshmen. What’s more, the Seminoles enter this season with just 10 players on their roster. Talent could be one problem for them, and depth could be another.
Cole: Colorado – So, the easy answer for me would be South Dakota, since I already mentioned how South Dakota State is out for revenge. Instead, I’ll pivot to the Pac-12 to talk about why the Buffaloes. Colorado finished fifth in the Pac-12 last season and lost its best player – Mya Hollingshed – to the WNBA. Once you factor that in and realize that they saved their tournament hopes with a late six-game winning streak, it’s easy to imagine them not finishing that high in the standings again. And if the Pac-12 caps out at its usual six NCAA Tournament bids, or even slides to five, Colorado could be in real trouble.
Which team that missed the NCAA Tournament last year will make it this year?
Mitchell: Syracuse – First year Orange head coach Felisha Legette-Jack won a lot with a little at Buffalo, posting five 20-win seasons and going to four NCAA Tournaments with the Bulls. Now she’s back at Syracuse, where her jersey hangs in the rafters, and has the chance to make a real impact at her alma mater. Legette-Jack brought back All-ACC talent Teisha Hyman, but otherwise transformed this roster, bringing in 10 transfers, including four who followed her from Buffalo. One of those former Bulls is Dyaisha Fair, who has been one of the best five scorers in the nation in each of the past three seasons (she averaged 23.4 points per game last year). Two freshmen join Cuse too, one of whom is Lexi McNabb. You might know her father, who once quarterbacked the Philadelphia Eagles to a Super Bowl appearance.
Cole: UCLA – The Bruins make that rise from the WNIT to the Big Dance. Between their star-studded freshman class, highlighted by Kiki Rice, and the return of the Pac-12’s third-leading scorer, Charisma Osbourne, the Bruins are in good shape heading into the year. They’re also getting a healthy Gina Conti, who was an All-ACC talent at Wake Forest a few years back. They’ll have the right balance of youth and experience to make a run at a top-three finish in the conference. Hey, perhaps they’re one of the teams that replaces Colorado.
Mitchell: Virginia Tech will make the Elite Eight, at least.
This roster is simply too talented to not make somewhat of a deep run in March. Let’s start with the transfers, Ashley Owusu and Taylor Soule. At Maryland, Owusu was an All-American, one of the best players in the Big Ten and a Drysdale Award winner, given to the nation’s top two-guard in the country. Soule was a three-time All-ACC selection at Boston College and did a little bit of everything for the Eagles as a versatile forward. Combine those two with Elizabeth Kitley – a preseason All-American this year and the reigning ACC Player of the Year. And then throw in Georgia Amoore, who averaged 11.2 points and 4.4 assists last season, and carried a Kitley-less Virginia Tech to a win over North Carolina in last season’s ACC Tournament. This March will be the Hokies’ third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament, and their stay should last into the second weekend.
Cole: South Carolina will run the table.
Is that bold? The Gamecocks are title favorites and it wouldn’t shock anyone if they repeated as national champions, but going undefeated? That’s tough to do, which is why only nine teams since 1982 have accomplished such a feat. Staley’s Gamecocks will be the 10th.
One of college basketball’s biggest and most accomplished players is set to build on an already wildly successful calendar year.
Aliyah Boston, a 2022 National Champion, Final Four Most Outstanding Player and Naismith Player of the Year (the list goes on), has landed a name, image, and likeness deal (NIL) with Orangetheory Fitness.
The standout South Carolina Gamecock forward spoke with For The Win about her partnership with the global fitness brand.
“The Orangetheory workouts are very well-rounded,” said Boston. “You get a little bit of everything.”
Orangetheory Fitness, a female-founded company, is a total-body, group workout that utilizes Heart Rate Based Interval Training to help individuals meet their fitness goals.
“I’m gonna try to get everybody (to do an Orangetheory workout). I think the investment is truly something you really can’t find anywhere else, and the way that they (Orangetheory) are all about female empowerment is truly something special.”
Boston’s deal comes with a membership of her own, and VIP classes for her coaches and teammates. More importantly, the partnership allowed Boston and Orangetheory to work together to create a customized workout that enables the star athlete to showcase to members all that goes into her being one of the world’s elite athletes.
In-studio Orangetheory members will see Boston appear on screens as she leads and instructs participants through a specific part of the training.
The workout is called “Shot Clock.”
“There are a lot of things that go into the Aliyah Boston workout (Shot Clock),” Boston told For The Win. “Things that I did in the off-season to prepare me for last year — some agility drills, some medicine ball workouts, and some core workouts. They (teammates) definitely might hate me but it’s gonna be so fun. It’s gonna be a party.”
South Carolina women’s basketball players, coaches and anyone else with interest in taking the “Shot Clock” workout can do so beginning on Thursday, November 10th at participating Orangetheory studios nationwide.