#10 Arizona vs. Stanford will be broadcast on ESPN2. The opening tip is scheduled for 9:00 PM ET.
The women’s basketball regular season is coming to an end, but there are still a few mega matchups left on the 2021 calendar. The biggest contest remaining on the NCAA women’s basketball schedule is in the Pac 12 Conference.
On Monday night, the sixth-ranked Stanford Cardinal will host the tenth-ranked Arizona Wildcats inside Maples Pavilion. Both of these programs will be competing in the NCAA Tournament, but Monday’s top-ten showdown will impact seeding.
Wildcats Focused on Revenge
Arizona is 15-2 this season and sitting in second place in the Pac 12. The Wildcats have lost both their games against conference opponents. Washington State narrowly edged the team, but Stanford blew them off the court.
When Stanford beat Arizona earlier in the year, the Cardinal was the nation’s number one team. Stanford dominated the Wildcats by a score of 81-54 on Arizona’s home floor. Arizona is focused on reversing this fate on the road at Stanford.
Arizona is currently riding a seven-game winning streak that dates back to mid-January. Arizona wins games because of their stout defense. Opponents are only averaging 55.7 points per game and shooting 36% from the field against the Wildcats in 2020-21.
Aari McDonald and Cate Reese lead Arizona. McDonald tends to turn the ball over, but the guard does a great job getting her entire team involved when she takes care of the basketball. Reese accompanies her in the paint.
Reese is a 6’2” forward who is averaging 12.2 points per game. Reese’s efficiency makes her so unique. The junior is shooting over 50% from the field and is ranked second on the team in rebounds.
One Seed on the Mind of the Cardinal
Stanford is the sixth-ranked team in the AP Poll, but they are the fourth-ranked squad in the Coaches Poll. If Stanford wins out, they will be a one seed in the NCAA Tournament. Following Arizona, the Cardinal will take on the University of California who is 0-14.
Stanford will still have to perform in the Pac 12 Tournament, but they control their own destiny when it comes to claiming a one seed in March.
The Pac 12 is one of the best conferences in women’s college basketball this season. Stanford beat multiple ranked conference opponents in 2020-21. The Cardinal are currently on a nine-game winning streak.
Stanford was the number one team in the nation on January 17th when unranked Colorado defeated them, 77-72 in overtime on the road. Following this game, Stanford was beaten by #6 UCLA, 70-66, at home.
Besides this two-game stretch, Stanford has been lights out. Stanford’s best three players are Kiana Williams, Haley Jones, and Lexie Hull. These athletes are averaging 14.1, 13.8, and 11 points per game, respectively.
The Cardinal are so tough to beat because they play team basketball. Tara VanDerveer’s squad is scoring 79 points per contest and limiting opponents to 54 average points. The Cardinal are rarely defeated in any statistical category during a game.
Arizona is one of the best basketball teams in the country, but they are not Stanford. With that being said, Colorado and UCLA proved that Pac 12 teams can beat Stanford. Arizona has a terrific defense, but Stanford does as well.
The Wildcats are averaging under 70 points per game. For them to take down Stanford, they are going to need to score more than 70 points. Stanford has scored at least 70 points in 18 of their 22 games in 2020-21.
The best way to beat Stanford is to score, and I do not think that Arizona has the firepower to make this happen. Aari McDonald shoots 39% from the field, and she is the Wildcats’ primary scorer.
McDonald will need to be efficient for the Wildcats to win. Stanford’s big three are not going to give Arizona easy opportunities. Uncontested shots are not in the DNA of any team coached by Tara VanDerveer.
Monday night’s game should be closer than Arizona and Stanford’s previous meeting, but I believe the Cardinal will prevail once again.
Stanford 76 Arizona 65