Five women's basketball games to watch on Pac-12 Networks in 2013-14

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It’s a long offseason in college hoops, but women’s basketball fans now have a little bit of news to hold them over with the Pac-12 Networks releasing its TV schedule for the 2013-14 season. The Pac-12 is looking to build off a year that saw four teams from the Conference of Champions make the NCAA tournament – which squads will make the most noise come November through March? Here are five games that could help answer that question:

  1. Nebraska at Utah – Friday, Nov. 15 at 4:30 p.m. PT

Not only is this the first Pac-12 Networks-televised game of the 2013-14 women’s basketball season, it will be a huge measuring stick for Utah as it tries to derail a squad that has made the Sweet 16 twice in the last four years. The Utes caught fire and made a run to the WNIT finals last season, and now head coach Anthony Levrets thinks his squad is good enough to take that next step and qualify for the Big Dance. And, with a senior frontcourt like Michelle Plouffe and Taryn Wicijowski, that goal is more than attainable. However, those two will have their hands full with Nebraska’s Jordan Hooper, a two-time first-team All-Big Ten and All-American honorable mention selection.

  1. Oklahoma at UCLA – Sunday, Nov. 24 at 1 p.m. PT

The Sooners and Bruins might as well have been conference foes last year as they matched wits twice – UCLA notched the big non-conference W in Norman, but Oklahoma got a bigger come-up by knocking off the Bru Cru in the second round of the NCAA tournament on a neutral court. Now the battle shifts to Pauley Pavilion – can Atonye Nyingifa and Thea Lemberger make it two out of three for the Cori Close Clique, or will the absence of Markel Walker and Alyssia Brewer prove to be too much in the early going?

[Related: 2013-14 Pac-12 women's basketball schedule]

  1. Cal at Stanford – Jan. 30 at 8 p.m. PT

These teams went a combined 34-2 in Pac-12 play last year, with both losses coming against each other as the Golden Bears and Cardinal tied for the conference regular season crown. Will Cal and Stanford once again top the table in 2013-14? Gennifer Brandon and Chiney Ogwumike, two of the best post players in the Pac, sure hope so. And, since we’re asking questions, what’s home court advantage? The road team has won the last three regular-season meetings.

  1. Tennessee at Stanford – Saturday, Dec. 21 at 1:30 p.m. PT

Two of the traditional powers in women’s college basketball lock horns on The Farm for their annual non-conference meeting. Stanford has won three of the last four outings, but Holly Warlick has seamlessly picked up where the legendary Pat Summitt left off, leading the Lady Vols to the Elite 8 last season. This is a huge game not only for the Card, but for the rest of the Pac-12 as well. Gotta pick up those non-conference victories over marquee opponents.

[Related: Pac-12 Networks releases 2013-14 women's basketball game telecast slate]

  1. USC at UCLA – Monday, Dec. 30 at 7 p.m. PT

Pac-12 opener + heated rivalry = reason you need to watch this game. Former Woman of Troy great Cynthia Cooper-Dyke enters her first season as USC’s head coach with hopes of turning around a program that has a storied past, in large thanks to her playing exploits. And, with conference honorees like Cassie Harberts and Ariya Crook back in Los Angeles, she’ll have the on-court tools necessary to make a good first impression as a head honcho.

BONUS: March 6-8 (All Day)

Block off your calendar for these three days, folks, for the first three rounds of the Pac-12 Tournament will be televised on your favorite network. (In case you forgot what your favorite network is, here’s a hint: it begins with a “P” and ends in “ac-12 Networks.”)