This weekend has been circled on calendars around the nation for months and the fervor has only grown.
The “Civil War” between Oregon and Oregon State continues with back-to-back sold-out games featuring No. 4 Oregon, led by Sabrina Ionescu, and No. 8 Oregon State, led by Mikayla Pivec.
The Pac-12 features another strong match-up for the weekend — surprise, surprise — with No 18 Arizona trying for its first rivalry series sweep of No. 16 Arizona State in 20 years. That game is Friday.
Northwestern and Maryland will play a ranked Big Ten conference tilt on Sunday, less than a month since the Wildcats upset the Terps in a statement victory.
The full schedule, with results to come, is here.
No. 7 Oregon State (16-2, 4-2) vs. No. 4 Oregon (15-2, 5-1)
Friday at Oregon in Eugene, 10 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks
Sunday at OSU in Corvallis, 4 p.m. on ESPN2
Both of these games have been sold out for weeks and the few tickets on resale are going for high prices. There will also be celebrities in attendance, Oregon coach Kelly Graves told the Oregonian while calling it the “best (rivalry) in the game.”
It’s the first meeting with each school in the top seven of the AP rankings, and will help determine the Pac-12 regular season champion, seeding in the conference tournament and location for the NCAA tournament. Oregon, No. 10 UCLA and No. 6 Stanford are tied at 5-1. No. 16 Arizona State (5-2) is fourth in the conference and Oregon State is fifth with Arizona (4-3) closing out the top half.
"This is an important week," Graves said, via goducks.com. "It's a huge week for college basketball, and certainly in this state. … Both of us play really good basketball and we really play hard, and represent the state well."
The teams defended their home courts in the rivalry last season: Oregon won 77-68 in Eugene and Oregon State won 67-62 in Corvallis. The Ducks are 44-2 at home in the past two years, but the seniors have never won at Gill Coliseum. Nor has Graves.
“We’ve had some really intense battles,” Graves said, via the Oregonian. “I think most of the games have gone right down to the last few possessions. I don’t anticipate that’s going to be any different this time.”
Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, the likely No. 1 pick in the 2020 WNBA draft, is one assist away from becoming the all-time Pac-12 assists leader, men’s or women’s. She’s coming off an incredible 37-point performance against then-No. 3 Stanford last week followed by her NCAA-leading fourth double-double of the season in a dominant victory over Cal.
Ionescu (17.4 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 8.6 APG, 1.5 SPG), Ruthy Hebard (16.5 PPG, 9.3 RPG, 1.4 BPG) and Satau Sabally (16.0 PPG, 6.7 RPG) make Oregon one of only two programs in the nation with three players averaging at least 16 points per game. The Ducks average an NCAA-best 87.6 points.
Oregon State’s Mikayla Pivec (14.7 PPG shooting 53.8 percent, 9.5 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.3 SPG) and Destiny Slocum (15.1 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 4.8 APG) lead the offense with the height of Taylor Jones clogging the boards.
No. 4 Oregon
No. 7 Oregon State
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No. 16 Arizona State (15-4, 5-2) at No. 18 Arizona (15-3, 4-3)
Friday, 8 p.m. on Pac-12 Networks
It’s the first time in this rivalry’s history these two have met while both ranked, and there hasn’t been a sweep in the rivalry in 20 years.
Arizona won 58-53 for their first win Tempe since 2000 — the season of the last sweep — behind big production from sophomore Cate Reese and Aari McDonald. Reese scored 17 points and had 10 rebounds, including the game-ender, while McDonald scored a game-high 20 points.
The Sun Devils rely on the team, exhibited by eight players notching at least 18 minutes in the first meeting. Eboni Walker and Jamie Ruden scored a combined 22 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
“They probably feel like they didn’t play well either,” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said, via the Arizona Republic. “We certainly didn’t execute our game plan on either side of the floor and we missed shots. The atmosphere is going to be amazing. It’s going to be fun. This team has really grown since then. We’re not afraid of the moment, we’ve gotten tougher, and we can take punches. It is going to come down a lot to just executing.”
It was, and will be again, a defensive battle. Arizona ranks fifth in scoring defense (51.1 points) and kept all of their Pac-12 opponents below their respective scoring averages. Arizona State ranks 19th (55.1) and kept offensive powerhouse Oregon, ranked first at 87.6 points scored per game, to 66.
The winning side will need to take advantage of any points they can muster. The Sun Devils were a collective 30.3 percent shooting, including 11.1 percent from 3-point range, in that first meeting.
The Wildcats shot 36.4 percent overall, including 25 percent from 3, and made 53.5 percent of their 22 shots at the line.
No. 22 Northwestern (17-2, 7-1) at No. 20 Maryland (15-4, 6-2)
Sunday, 1 p.m. on Big Ten Network
Northwestern can continue its statement-making season against the team it first made waves against when it travels to Maryland on Sunday. The Wildcats jumped into the national conversation by defeating then 12th-ranked Maryland, 81-58, on the final day of the decade. They claimed their first AP poll ranking since 2016 this week and have their best start in three decades.
Lindsey Pulliam finished with 24 points and the defense held the Terrapins to 28 points below their scoring average. Maryland had 24 turnovers and Big Ten preseason player of the year Kaila Charles had five of them, alongside 10 points.
The Wildcats are also looking to hold onto the top spot in the Big Ten standings. Both Northwestern and Iowa are 7-1. Maryland is 6-2. Rutgers (5-2) and Indiana (5-3) trail as the mid-point nears after the weekend.
Northwestern defeated ranked Indiana last week in overtime and is coming off a Thursday night victory against Michigan State. Pulliam averages 18.5 points per game and Veronica Burton sets her up with an average of 5.2 assists per game.
Maryland has won four in a row after an early January loss to Iowa on the road. Four players average in double-digits, led by Charles’ 14.6 and team-high 8.1 rebounds. Blair Watson has been solid defensively.
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