2019-20 Women's Basketball season tips off with high expectations

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High expectations in store for the Pac-12, the 2019-20 women’s basketball season tips off on Tuesday, Nov. 5 with five teams ranked in the postseason, including OREGON earning its first-ever No. 1 preseason ranking to lead the way, while three league teams are ranked in the top 10 for the second-straight year. STANFORD is entering the season at No. 3 in the Associated Press and USA Today/Coaches polls and OREGON STATE is ranked No. 7 and No. 6, respectively. UCLA is just out of the top 10 at No. 11 in both pollings, followed by ARIZONA STATE at No. 20 in the AP and No. 18 in the coaches polls. All five teams advanced to at least the NCAA Sweet 16 last season with the Ducks advancing to their first-ever NCAA Women’s Final Four ... ARIZONA received votes in the polls after having the best turnaround of any team in the country last season, winning the WNIT in front of record crowds. The Wildcats are led by the nation’s top-returning scorer in Aari McDonald, who averaged 24.1 points per game ... 19 from the Pac-12 were named candidates for the Basketball Hall of Fame/WBCA positional awards, the most of any conference. Nine different Pac-12 teams were represented on one or more of the five lists. Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, who returned for her senior campaign, is a two-time winner of the Nancy Lieberman Award. She is closing in on the Pac-12 assists record, needing eight to become just the second player in league history with 800 assists ... The Ducks, Beavers and Cardinal are set to take on the toughest opponent in an exhibition match as the U.S. Women’s National Team visits all three campuses as part of its College Tour. Former Pac-12 players Layshia Clarendon (CALIFORNIA), Kelsey Plum (WASHINGTON) and Nneka Ogwumike (Stanford) have been named to the roster. All three exhibition games will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.

CONFERENCE NOTEBOOK
Oregon Picked Preseason Favorites: Defending regular-season Pac-12 Champion OREGON was picked the preseason favorite to win the regular season by the media and coaches. The Ducks received all 11 possible first-place votes by the coaches then garnered 19 of 20 first-place media votes. The coaches and media polls were nearly identical. STANFORD was picked No. 2 in each of the pollings, receiving the only other first-place votes, and OREGON STATE was picked third.

Preseason Rankings: For the fourth-straight year and just the fifth time ever, five Pac-12 teams are ranked in the preseason Associated Press poll with three of those teams ranking in the top 10 for the second-straight year. OREGON earned its first-ever No. 1 ranking, the first preseason No. 1 ranking for a Pac-12 team since 1996-97.

For the third time in four years, five Pac-12 teams are ranked in the USA Today/WBCA Coaches Poll with the Ducks earning the No. 1 ranking in the poll for the first time in program history, the Conference’s first preseason No. 1 team since Stanford started the 1996-97 campaign at No. 1.

The three top-10 teams in both polls ties for the most of any conference in the country. In addition to Oregon, STANFORD was also ranked in the top three of both pollings, with OREGON STATE making an appearance in the top 10. ARIZONA STATE and UCLA are also ranked in the top 25. All five teams advanced to at least the NCAA Sweet Sixteen last season.

NCAA Active Leaders: The top three career scoring leaders among active NCAA women’s basketball players are expected to be from the Pac-12. Wade Trophy and Wooden Award winner Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu could become the first player in NCAA history to amass 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds in a career. The NCAA’s active career scoring and assists leader, she enters the season with 1,984 points, 792 assists and 756 rebounds. Ionescu has grabbed at least 756 rebounds over the last three seasons, grabbing a career-best 282 last year.

Right behind Ionescu in career scoring are teammate Ruthy Hebard and Washington State’s Borislava Hristova. Hebard is No. 2 on the NCAA’s active career rebounding list while new teammate Minyon Moore enters the season at the No. 2 active leader in free throws made (404).

Ionescu Looking to Become the First: Wade Trophy and Wooden Award winner Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescy could become the first player in NCAA history to amass 2,000 points, 1,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds in a career. The NCAA’s active career scoring and assists leader, she enters the season with 1,984 points, 792 assists and 756 rebounds. Ionescu has grabbed at least 756 rebounds over the last three seasons, grabbing a career-best 282 last year.

Preseason Bracketology: ESPN’s Charlie Creme’s preseason bracketology has six Pac-12 teams in the NCAA Tournament. Creme has Oregon (Portland) and Stanford (Greenville) as No. 1 seeds, Oregon State as a No. 2 seed (Fort Wayne), UCLA as a No. 3 seed (Dallas), Arizona State as a No. 5 seed (Fort Wayne) and Arizona as a No. 8 seed (Dallas). If it holds, the No. 1 seeds would be the first for the Conference since 2013 and the first time since 1990 the Pac-12 would have two No. 1 seeds. The Wildcats will be looking for their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2005.

Pac-12 Women’s Basketball Continues Strong Campaigns: The Pac-12 is in the midst of its most successful run, coming off a fourth-straight season with at least six NCAA Tournament bids, receiving at least five every year since 2013-14. The Conference boasts the most NCAA Tournament wins (55) of any conference since 2015-16 and has the best winning percentage among peer league during that span (.696). Pac-12 teams combined for an 11-1 record through the first two rounds in last year’s tournament for the best record for a conference since 1997, going undefeated in the opening round for the third time in four years. Oregon’s run to the NCAA Women’s Final Four marked the 10th time in 12 years a Pac-12 team had advanced that far with the Ducks becoming the fifth different team in the national semifinal since 2013. No other conference has sent as many different teams to the Final Four during that span. The Pac-12 is the only conference to have at least two teams in the Elite Eight the last four years, placing at least four in the Sweet 16 during that time. For the first time ever, five Pac-12 teams appeared in the final Associated Press poll, with two ranked in the top 10, extending the Conference’s streak of two top-10 ranked teams to five-consecutive years. For the first time ever, five Pac-12 teams were in the top 15 of the final USA Today/WBCA Coaches poll, also marking the second time in three years five teams are in the final ranking. Additionally, it marked the first time three teams were ranked in the coaches’ final top 10.

All-Star Returns: The Conference’s top talent returns with 10 of the 15 All-Pac-12 team members back, led by Wade Trophy and John R. Wooden Award winner Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, former 2017 national freshman of the year Oregon State’s Destiny Slocum and the nation’s top-returning scorer in Arizona’s Aari McDonald, who led the Wildcats to a WNIT title.

Also back are national positional award candidates DiJonai Carrington (Stanford), Ruthy Hebard (Oregon), Borislava Hristova (Washington State), Michaela Onyenwere (UCLA), Mikayla Pivec (Oregon State), Satou Sabally (Oregon) and Kiana Williams (Stanford). Hristova is looking to become the first 2,000-point scorer in WSU history and is a two-time All-Pac-12 honoree. Hebard was named All-Pac-12 three times, along with teammate Ionescu.

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Thursday, Oct. 31    
Westminster at UTAH (Ex.)   11 a.m. MT
Beijing Normal at WASHINGTON STATE (Ex.)   5:30 p.m. PT
Friday, Nov. 1    
Concordia at #7/6 OREGON STATE (Ex.)   6 p.m. PT
Saturday, Nov. 2    
USA at #3/3 STANFORD (Ex.) P12N 4 p.m. PT
Sunday, Nov. 3    
Vanguard at CALIFORNIA (Ex.)   2 p.m. PT
Monday, Nov. 4    
Regis at COLORADO   7 p.m. MT
USA at #7/6 Oregon State P12N 7 p.m. PT
Tuesday, Nov. 5    
North Dakota at ARIZONA Live Stream 6:30 p.m. MT
Air Force at #20/18 ARIZONA STATE Live Stream 6 p.m. MT
Eastern Washington at #3/3 STANFORD Live Stream 7 p.m PT
Weber State at #11/11 UCLA Live Stream 7 p.m. PT
USC at CSUN BWTV 7 p.m. PT
UTAH at Cincinnati   7 p.m. ET
Pepperdine at WASHINGTON STATE Live Stream 7 p.m. PT
Thursday, Nov. 7    
UTAH at Xavier   7 p.m. ET
Friday, Nov. 8    
Santa Clara at ARIZONA Live Stream 6:30 p.m. MT
CALIFORNIA at Harvard ESPN+ 7 p.m. ET
CS Bakersfield at WASHINGTON Live Stream 7 p.m. PT
Saturday, Nov. 9    
USA at #1/1 OREGON P12N 4 p.m. PT
UC Irvine at #7 OREGON STATE (WNIT) P12N 6 p.m. PT
#3/3 STANFORD vs. San Francisco, Chase Center, San Francisco   3 p.m. PT
Loyola Marymount at #11/11 UCLA Live Stream 2 p.m. PT
Virginia at USC Live Stream 2 p.m. PT
BYU at WASHINGTON STATE Live Stream 1 p.m. PT
Sunday, Nov. 10    
Army at #11 ARIZONA STATE Live Stream 5 p.m. MT
CALIFORNIA at #5/4 Connecticut ESPN+ 7 p.m. ET
New Jersey Institute at COLORADO Live Stream 12 p.m. MT
Tulane at WASHINGTON Live Stream 2 p.m. PT
Monday, Nov. 11    
Northeastern at #1/1 OREGON Live Stream 12 p.m. PT
#7/6 OREGON STATE vs. TBD (WNIT) Live Stream 2 p.m. PT
* Game times local to site; Live streams of matchups available at pac-12.com.
 
 

 

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