Women’s Basketball: Top five out of conference games this season 

The UConn Women’s Basketball team plays their senior game against Xavier University winning 60-51 on Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in Gampel Pavilion. The Huskies look to find similar success against opponents outside of the Big East this upcoming season. File photo/The Daily Campus

Though we’re still deep into football season, women’s basketball is right around the corner. UConn recently released their complete out-of-conference schedule, including a few cupcakes and several great opportunities. From chances to get revenge on losses last year to less familiar opponents, here are the top five most interesting games UConn will play, in no particular order. Rankings are courtesy of ESPN’s Way Too Early list.   

No. 17 Maryland, Nov. 16 at Home 

In the second full game, after UConn lost Azzi Fudd to her knee injury last year, Maryland took advantage of an injury-ridden Husky squad. In particular, UConn had a weak second quarter that gave Maryland the push they needed. This time around, Connecticut should have Fudd and Paige Bueckers back, a guard tandem that gives the Huskies a chance to win any game. The Terps lost Diamond Miller and Abby Meyers but reloaded with NC State transfer Jakia Brown-Turner, a familiar face to UConn. She hit her signature three in the Elite Eight to send the game to double overtime in a contest Connecticut eventually won. Maryland does return some graduate transfers, but Brown-Turner is set to be the offensive catalyst. Guard Shyanne Sellers is also set to make a big leap.  

No. 4 UCLA, Nov. 24 at Cayman Islands Classic  

One of two teams on this list UConn didn’t play last year, UCLA could be the stiffest challenge on this list. The Bruins return last year’s top recruiting class that featured headline recruit Kiki Rice. Rice had a stellar freshman year with 12 points, 4.5 boards and three assists, a key player in the team’s Sweet 16 squad. Perhaps an even more critical returnee is Charisma Osborne, the undersized guard who led last year’s team. She notched a 16-6-3 line, also excelling as a defender. It also doesn’t hurt that 6-7 center Lauren Betts transferred south from Stanford. Things are lining up for UCLA to have a Final Four-caliber season and this game against UConn will be a massive one for both sides. The game will take place in British Territory, in the Cayman Islands, a small Caribbean island near Cuba and Jamaica.  

No. 14 Louisville, Dec.16 at Home 

Former Big East foes, Louisville is no stranger to UConn. The teams took a four-year hiatus when the Cardinal left for the ACC but resumed their rivalry in 2018-19 with a home and an NCAA tournament game. The Huskies invited Louisville to Mohegan Sun almost exactly two years before this year’s matchup and lost. It was one of the first few games played without Bueckers after she went down with her initial collegiate knee injury, and the Huskies looked lost. Bueckers should get her chance to play against the Cards for the first time, but it’s a squad that looks very different. Hailey Van Lith graduated early and is now an LSU Tiger. It looks like much of Louisville’s production will be courtesy of transfers, which can be very hit or miss in early-season matchups. UConn has a great chance to win this one with their familiar core.  

No. 10 Notre Dame, Jan. 27 at Home 

After starting last year 6-0 with three top-10 wins, UConn looked poised to take care of No.7 Notre Dame in South Bend. Instead, Fudd was injured after 13 scoreless minutes and the other Huskies didn’t manage to get their act together in time to grab a win. The Fighting Irish ultimately went on to win the ACC but fell in the Elite Eight after losing star PG Olivia Miles. If Miles is healthy, she has a chance to form one of the best 1-2 punches in women’s college basketball with Sonia Citron. The guards combined for nearly 30 ppg last year, and Miles was in the top 10 nationally with 6.9 assists a night. Given how this game went last year and UConn’s improved firepower, this will be an interesting one in Connecticut. 

No. 8 South Carolina, Feb. 11 in Columbia, SC 

South Carolina is a team that has haunted Paige Bueckers since she hit a signature rim-rattling dagger against them her freshman year. In the seasons after, UConn has lost to the Gamecocks three times – Bueckers twice – including a defeat in the 2022 championship. The Gamecocks lost NPOY and program great Aaliyah Boston but do have reinforcements. Te-Hina Paopao, who lit UConn up for 22 points and eight boards two years ago, transferred from Oregon and should play a key role. Raven Johnson, South Carolina’s leader in assists, also returns, perhaps looking to improve on a promising freshman season. After what the Gamecocks have done to UConn in past years, the Huskies will be licking their chops in anticipation of this conference break.  

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