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UConn WBB Weekly: The biggest non-conference games this season

The Huskies once again have a loaded non-conference slate.

Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

Welcome to the UConn WBB Weekly, a recap of everything that happened in the world of UConn women’s basketball over the past week.

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Last week’s Weekly:


Editor’s note: With Dan Connolly on a much-deserved vacation, fellow UConn Blog editor (and occasional WBB Weekly contributor) Dan Madigan is filling in this week.

Three of the most interesting games on UConn’s 2022-23 non-conference schedule

As the years go on, some things remain the same. The sun goes down, it comes back up, news breaks while Dan Connolly is on vacation, and the UConn women release a non-conference schedule that is as strong as ever.

The Huskies’ 2022-23 non-conference slate went live Wednesday afternoon, featuring an impressive mix of quality competition, fierce rivalries, and the reunion of some old friends climbing up the coaching ranks.

With so many interesting and exciting games on the schedule, I’ve already circled these on my calendar:

Honorable Mentions

Dec. 4 - at Notre Dame

This has been the defining rivalry in the sport of the 2000s, and it should be another great environment when UConn heads to the Joyce Center in South Bend. Like so many great college basketball rivalries, there is no love lost between the programs’ longtime coaches. Even though Geno Auriemma and Muffet McGraw still trade barbs from time to time, they won’t be squaring off on the sidelines like they used to. Niele Ivey has already gotten the Irish back to a Sweet 16 in her first season as head coach, but the rivalry loses a bit of its flair without McGraw and the fact that Notre Dame is not the championship contender it has been.

Dec. 8 - Home vs. Princeton

Former UConn guard Carla Berube has already built Princeton into a perennial Ivy League power since making the jump from Tufts University three seasons ago. The Tigers have won the Ivy League title in every season they have played under Berube, and posted a 25-5 record last season, including a win over eventual No. 1 pick Rhyne Howard and Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament this past spring. While Shea Ralph and Marisa Moseley are just getting things going at Vanderbilt and Wisconsin, respectively, there’s an argument to be made that Berube is the best coach in the Geno Auriemma coaching tree. That’s enough to make their Dec. 8 matchup plenty interesting.

TBA at Tennessee

This has very similar vibes to the away game against Notre Dame. Add in the fact that the Huskies took down the Lady Vols last season in convincing fashion with a 19-point win, and it’s a fun nostalgia trip at best. Here’s hoping ESPN picks up the game and puts it on Martin Luther King Day like old times, and the Huskies break out those sweet 2000s-era uniforms again.

No. 3.) Dec. 11 at Maryland

UConn and the Terrapins haven’t met since 2017 and this year’s December matchup marks the first game in a home-and-home that was supposed to begin in the 2020-21 season. While the Huskies have a 7-0 lead in the all-time series, Brenda Frese and the Terps have almost always hung tight with UConn, losing by 10 at Madison Square Garden in 2015 — the closest game the Huskies played that entire season — and losing by six at College Park a year later before losing by 25 in their last meeting.

Frese and Maryland have made back-to-back Sweet 16s in the past two seasons and finished No. 12 in last year’s NET rankings, one of seven teams on the Huskies’ non-conference schedule to finish in the top 20. It may not be as flashy of rivalry as Notre Dame, Tennessee, or South Carolina — and it may not even be able to be called a rivalry since the Huskies have never lost — but it could be one of the best games of the season and serves as UConn’s first true test as they take on a quality opponent on the road.

No. 2.) Nov. 20 - Home vs. NC State

Wolfpack fans will have this Elite Eight rematch with the Huskies as No. 1 on their lists as NC State takes on UConn for the second year in a row. Wes Moore’s squad will likely be one of the top teams in the ACC once again, even without star forward Elissa Cunane, who is off to the WNBA. Although their dream season fell a game short of the Final Four last season, The Huskies and NC State played arguably the best game of the entire tournament, with UConn edging out the Wolfpack 91-87 in double overtime on the back of a legendary performance from Paige Bueckers.

With that classic fresh in so many players’ memories, plus NC State and others being rather vocal about having to play the Huskies in Bridgeport for such an important game, expect the Wolfpack to bring their all.

This season’s game marks the first of a home-and-home series, with UConn heading to Raleigh next season. Depending on how this year’s game shakes out, it could mark the start of another rivalry matchup for the Huskies and possibly more games between these two teams in the future.

No. 1.) Feb. 5 - Home vs. South Carolina

Dawn Staley and the Gamecocks have been the Huskies’ toughest opponent these past few seasons, and South Carolina became the first school ever to take down UConn in a national championship game last season. That victory, where the Gamecocks won their second national title and beat the Huskies twice last season, adds only more fuel to the fire of this budding rivalry. Auriemma, Bueckers, and the Huskies certainly will be out for revenge this season.

With the Big East shaping up to be about the same as usual this season, this matchup in February will also serve as a final litmus test for how the Huskies shape up against elite competition before they enter the NCAA Tournament.

With the ability to avenge their title game loss, swing the rivalry back in their favor and establish themselves as legitimate title contenders with a win over the Gamecocks, this likely top-five matchup is must-watch TV and one of the Huskies’ most important regular-season games.

Best of social media

Qadence Samuels’ commitment video is one of the best I can remember seeing in a long time.

Tina Charles joins Sue Bird, Breanna Stewart, and Gabby Williams on the Seattle Storm. That’s 10 national titles between those four players alone and a true WNBA super team.

Moriah Jefferson’s WNBA career hasn’t always been easy, but she made history Tuesday night by becoming the 10th player in league history to record a triple-double — and the first in Minnesota Lynx history — in a win against her old team, the Dallas Wings.

UConn mic’d up Auriemma for a practice this week and as usual, he delivered.