College basketball is giving viewers must-see matchups to finish 2023 on a high note.

Conference play is in full swing and every game counts. This weekend’s action is full of battles between ranked teams and matchups we could see again come March and April.

Here are the top five NCAA women’s basketball games of the weekend, in order of schedule.

No. 10 Baylor @ No. 5 Texas

These undefeated Texas teams have been putting on a show early in the 2023-24 season. The Longhorns have put up five 100-point games in their 13 games played, while the Bears have posted two.

Both Baylor (11-0) and Texas (13-0) have beaten fearsome opponents, but Baylor’s ranked victories stand out. The Bears have taken down then-No. 4 Utah and then-No. 24 Miami. The Longhorns beat UConn on Dec. 3 at the Jimmy V Classic but have not faced a ranked opponent since then.

Both teams enter this matchup with confidence after significant wins in their most recent games. Texas almost doubled their previous opponent in scoring, beating Jackson State, 97-52, and Baylor topped South Florida, 73-50. With such high rates of offensive production between these Big 12 rivals, it could be anyone’s game.

2 p.m. ET Saturday — FOX

No. 12 Utah @ No. 8 Colorado

These Pac-12 teams have been mainstays in the AP Top 25 all season, and this matchup should reflect that. Four Buffaloes average double-digits in scoring, and they are overall a higher-scoring team than the Utes. But Utah’s Alissa Pili is a force to be reckoned with.

Utah (10-2) presented undefeated No. 1 South Carolina with its toughest challenge of the season so far. A high-scoring outing from Pili and a quality defensive showing like the Utes’ matchup with the Gamecocks could lift them over Colorado (10-1). But they have to get through the Buffaloes’ freshman trio of Frida Formann, Aaronette Vonleh and Jaylyn Sherrod first.

3 p.m. ET Saturday — Pac-12 Network

No. 6 USC @ No. 2 UCLA

Both USC (10-0) and UCLA (11-0) have steamrolled their way through the early season. Both squads are undefeated, and both are putting up high numbers on the scoreboard.

The Bruins have played a notably tougher schedule than the Trojans — UCLA has topped three ranked opponents since the season began, while USC has faced just one ranked team. But that hasn’t stopped the Trojans from winning in style.

USC freshman JuJu Watkins ranks second in the NCAA in average points per game. She puts up an astronomical 26.8 points per game, and she leads her team in assists and steals as well. But the Bruins starting five all average double-digit scoring, with Lauren Betts and Charisma Osborne averaging 16.9 and 14.5 points per game, respectively. This southern California rivalry will bring the offensive power that viewers crave from young rising talent and veteran players.

8 p.m. ET Saturday — Pac-12 Network

UConn is finding its footing after a shaky start to the season. (G Fiume/Getty Images)

No. 15 UConn @ No. 18 Marquette

After their shakiest start to a season in decades, the Huskies are climbing their way back up the poll right in time for conference play. The Golden Eagles are experiencing the opposite start to their slate. After appearing on the AP Top 25 for just one week last season, Marquette has been near-constant presence this year after the best start to a season in program history.

Entering Sunday’s contest, UConn (9-3) has dropped three early games, and Marquette (12-0) is undefeated. The Golden Eagles rarely find themselves in this position against their conference rivals, but their Liza Karlen is putting up numbers rivaling those of Player of the Year candidate Paige Bueckers. UConn is Marquette’s toughest challenge yet, but the Golden Eagles should not be overlooked.

1 p.m. ET Sunday — SNY

No. 13 Notre Dame @ Syracuse

While the Irish are the only ranked team in this contest, the ACC matchup is still worth a watch. Notre Dame and Syracuse are 9-1 and 10-1, respectively, and the game could be close.

The Orange’s only loss so far came at the hands of then-No. 20 Maryland, and the Irish fell to then-No. 6 South Carolina. Notre Dame has played more intimidating opponents than Syracuse, including then-No. 20 Tennessee, but the Orange have beaten most of their opponents handily, some by almost 50 points.

Regardless of the outcome of the game, watching Notre Dame’s Hannah Hidalgo and Syracuse’s Dyaisha Fair go up against each other in a conference match should be quality basketball.

2 p.m. ET Sunday — ACC Network

Just 11 teams remain undefeated in NCAA women’s basketball.

Pac-12 rivals UCLA and USC are among them, with both likely to remain so heading into their Dec. 30 meeting. Before that top-10 contest, No. 2 UCLA will face Hawaii at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, and No. 6 USC will go up against Long Beach State at 5 p.m. ET Wednesday.

USC is led by freshman phenom JuJu Watkins, who has five 30-point performances through nine games. Her 26.8 points per game is second among all scorers, behind only Iowa’s Caitlin Clark. UCLA also features a star-studded roster, including sophomores Lauren Betts and Kiki Rice.

The undefeated South Carolina Gamecocks remain the unanimous No. 1 pick in the AP Top 25. Their next game against a ranked opponent comes on Jan. 25 against No. 7 LSU.

The full list of teams undefeated as of noon ET on Dec. 20 includes:

  • No. 1 South Carolina (11-0)
  • No. 2 UCLA (10-0)
  • No. 3 NC State (11-0)
  • No. 5 Texas (11-0)
  • No. 6 USC (9-0)
  • No. 10 Baylor (9-0)
  • No. 18 Marquette (11-0)
  • No. 23 Washington (11-0)
  • No. 25 TCU (11-0)
  • West Virginia (10-0)
  • Oregon State (9-0)

In the 2022-23 season, South Carolina went undefeated until the Final Four, when the Gamecocks lost to Iowa. Just nine teams have gone undefeated en route to a national championship: Texas (1985-86), Tennessee (1997-98), Baylor (2011-12) and UConn (1994-95, 2001-02, 2008-09, 2009-10, 2013-14, 2015-16).

A number of teams this season have just one loss so far, including Iowa (11-1) and LSU (11-1).

Brittney Griner received a warm welcome back to her home state of Texas as the Baylor women’s basketball team visited with the star Wednesday before she and the Phoenix Mercury faced the Dallas Wings.

A friendly crowd cheered the former Baylor star as she took the court in Texas for the first time since she was detained in Russia last year. Along with the Bears, her high school coach, her AAU team, her wife and many other family members attended the game.

While the Wings came out on top with an 84-79 win over the Mercury, Griner still appreciated her homecoming.

“Just a lot of support. It was good seeing everybody and just being back in Texas,” Griner said. “I miss being here. When I came out and they announced my name, the love meant a lot to me.”

After the Baylor team visited with Griner, Bears head coach Nicki Collen made a promise: Griner’s jersey will be retired at her alma mater. The Bears are set to open their new arena Foster Pavilion in January 2024, and Collen wants to see Griner’s name honored among the Baylor legends.

“That’s the goal,” Collen said. “We’re opening a new arena. There’s no doubt that I want to see her jersey in the rafters.”

The relationship between Baylor and Griner, who is arguably the best player in program history, has been strained at times, particularly after the star player and former head coach Kim Mulkey had a falling-out.

One reason Griner hasn’t had her jersey retired yet was because she needed to complete her degree, which she now has, she said. And with Collen replacing Mulkey at the helm in 2021, the two sides started forging a renewed bond.

“I would love to see my jersey up in the rafters and everything,” Griner said. “Once [Nick Collen] got there the doors really opened up, and the love and support, a lot of people think it’s a hate relationship. And it’s not.”

As for getting back to watch a game this upcoming season, Griner says she “can’t wait.” She wants to return the favor, noting that it “meant a lot” to have the women’s team in Dallas for the Mercury game.

“I played some of my best basketball there, met some really amazing people there, met my wife there,” Griner said of Baylor. “It’s safe to say I’m never going overseas to play ball again, so in the offseason, I’ll be able to actually go and see games. Be there and just walk the same halls that I walked before.

“It was amazing to have [the Baylor team] here. Since the moment [Collen] hit Baylor campus, we’ve been talking back and forth and everything, and the love and support is there. I love Baylor. Without that, I don’t get to where I’m at right here. Can’t wait to see everybody there when I get down to Waco.”

As WNBA training camp begins, colleges are wishing their alumni luck. But Stanford women’s basketball missed one.

Stanford took to Twitter to applaud former Cardinal players who are participating in WNBA training camps, but the program did not include DiJonai Carrington. Carrington played for Stanford for four seasons before transferring to Baylor for her fifth season as a graduate transfer.

The Connecticut Sun guard seemed to laugh at the omission in a Twitter post. She then provided proof of her graduation from the university in response to those who seemingly didn’t believe her.

Fellow players, including WNBA legend Sheryl Swoopes, backed her up.

“And did!!! Shame on you @StanfordWBB!” Swoopes wrote.

NaLyssa Smith, who played with Carrington at Baylor, called it “very weird” that her former teammate wasn’t included in Stanford’s well wishes.

“Very weird of y’all to forget @DijonaiVictoria,” she wrote. “But i feel like it starts with the coach, no coach is letting this happen to one of there players 2 years in a row.”

Smith then doubled down, calling it “childish” not to include Carrington.

“Transfer or not once you graduate from the school, you’re forever connected to the school,” she continued. “At the end of the day it’s just childish because they know what they’re doing.”

Yes, the UConn Huskies remember the controversial no-foul call that helped send them to the Final Four over Baylor in 2021.

No, the Huskies don’t feel the need to rehash the past, even as they prepare to face the Bears in a rematch of that rivalry game in the second round of this year’s NCAA Tournament.

“I already knew this question was coming,” Aaliyah Edwards said Sunday when asked about the play. “I mean, feelings from that game, we won it. So I think that’s really what I take from that game.”

Edwards, then a freshman, played a key role in the play in question. She and teammate Olivia Nelson-Ododa blocked a potential game-winning jump shot from Dijonai Carrington with seconds remaining in the Elite Eight clash.

The question: Did either of the Huskies foul Carrington on the shot? The referees said no, and UConn kept its lead and won the game. But the sting of the loss and the no-call sharpened the rivalry between the programs.

UConn coach Geno Auriemma downplayed the ending of the 2021 contest.

“If I remember correctly about that particular game, there were a lot of fouls in that game,” he said. “Some were called, some were not. Whether that one was a foul or not, I don’t know.”

Still, he did acknowledge the heated nature of the competition between No. 2 seed UConn and No. 7 seed Baylor ahead of Monday’s game, which is set to tip off at 9 p.m. ET at Gampel Pavilion in Connecticut. The winner will advance to play either No. 3 seed Ohio State or No. 6 seed North Carolina in a Sweet 16 matchup on Saturday.

The Huskies and the Bears have faced off nine times, with the Huskies holding a narrow 5-4 advantage in the series.

“It certainly has been a lot of games — a lot of big games,” Auriemma said. “I don’t know how many times we’ve played them but it seems like every time we do play them there’s a lot at stake. There’s a lot of great players on the floor.”

South Dakota became the latest double-digit seed to upset a national powerhouse in the NCAA Tournament, defeating Baylor 61-47 in the second round on Sunday.

Baylor had been seeking its 12th consecutive Sweet 16 appearance, the fourth-longest streak in NCAA Tournament history. Instead, the Coyotes will advance to their first in school history after also upsetting 7-seed Oregon in the first round for their first tournament win.

South Dakota went 8-for-16 from 3-point range Sunday, compared to Baylor’s 19.2 percent shooting from beyond the arc, to dominate the matchup from beginning to end. The Coyotes also capitalized on points off of turnovers, outscoring the Bears 22-2 in that category.

South Dakota held the Bears scoreless for the first seven minutes of the game and went ahead by as much as 16 in the third quarter. South Dakota coach Dawn Plitzuweit called her squad, which has yet to trail in a game during the tournament, “fearless.”

“I just kept thinking, ‘We’ve just got to kind of hang tight,'” Plitzuweit told reporters after the game. “Been thinking about it a lot the last couple days with the draw that we have, two Power 5s … to now be able to see, ‘OK, maybe it didn’t come right away, but now we have a chance to do something really special.’”

South Dakota center Hannah Sjerven led all scorers with 16 points, four rebounds and four steals. Chloe Lamb and Liv Korngable had 15 and 11 points, respectively. The trio combined for nearly 70 percent of South Dakota’s points in the contest.

“Just doing everything at a very high, 100 percent level, not doing anything half-heartedly,” Korngable said of the effort. “Pulling from coaches and players and each other, that’s a big, big part of our fearlessness and confidence.”

Queen Egbo led Baylor with 13 points and seven rebounds. Top WNBA Draft prospect NaLyssa Smith had 10 points and eight rebounds on 4-for-11 shooting from the field.

The fifth-ranked Baylor Bears took down No. 8 Iowa State on Monday 87-62, clinching at least a share of their 12th consecutive Big 12 regular-season title.

It’s the first for head coach Nicki Collen, who replaced former coach Kim Mulkey this season after Mulkey left for LSU following 21 seasons with the Bears. Collen is 24-5 in her first season with Baylor.

A win over Texas Tech on Sunday, or an Iowa State loss on Saturday, would clinch the title outright for the Bears.

Baylor shot 51.5 percent to the Cyclones’ 35.7 percent during Monday’s matchup. They were also more efficient from 3-point range, shooting 8-for-21 while Iowa State was 4-for-22 from beyond the arc. The 25-point win was the largest margin of victory in a top-10 matchup this season.

Projected No. 1-overall pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft, NaLyssa Smith led all scorers with 28 points on 11-of-15 shooting and a career-high 20 rebounds. She is just the second DI women’s player in the past 20 seasons to have at least 25 points and 20 rebounds in a top-10 matchup, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Former No. 1 pick and Stanford standout Chiney Ogwumike scored 32 points and added 20 rebounds in a 2013 matchup between Stanford and Tennessee.

Four other Bears scored in double-digits, with Jordan Lewis contributing 23 points and six assists while Caitlin Bickle added 13 points. Ja’Mee Asberry and Queen Egbo each had 10 points.

Ashley Joens had 19 points and five rebounds for the Cyclones through 33 minutes before fouling out. Emily Ryan was the only other Iowa State player in double-digits with 10 points.

Iowa State next plays West Virginia on Saturday while Baylor will face Texas Tech on Sunday to close out the regular season.