South Carolina vs. Stanford: How to Watch, Preview and Pick the Big Preseason Women’s Basketball Matchup

The top two programs in women’s college basketball will play each other Sunday afternoon when No. 2 Stanford hosts No. 1 South Carolina. These are the two most recent national champions and this clash of titans should help tell programs more about their strengths and weaknesses as the season begins.

As Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer said, “It’s a win-win.”

The two teams have dominated on both sides of the ball and have impressive winning margins despite light fixtures early in the season. South Carolina is 3-0 with an average win percentage of 49.7 points, while Stanford is 5-0 and wins with an average of 46.6 points.

The only ranked opponent both teams have faced is No. 17 Maryland — a team the Gamecocks beat 81-56 on Nov. 11. Coincidentally, Stanford beat Maryland in the last Sweet 16.

The Cardinal eventually made it to the Final Four, but they didn’t stand a chance of defending their 2021 national title because they fell to UConn. However, a new season means a new opportunity. Stanford has a large roster that hasn’t had to rely too much on its two All-Americans yet, although they’ll likely be needed when the competition gets tougher.

Dawn Staley is trying to build a dynasty in what her Gamecocks look like to defend her 2022 NCAA championship. South Carolins is witnessing what appears to be a successful season for Zia Cooke. Aliyah Boston is in the spotlight, but she doesn’t take it lightly having already registered two double-doubles this season.

Stanford leads the all-time series 6-2, but the Gamecocks won their most recent encounter on December 21, 2021, 65-61.

So you see #1 South Carolina at #2 Stanford

  • Date: Sunday 20 Nov
  • Location: Maple Pavilion – Stanford, CA
  • Time: 3:00 p.m. ET
  • TV: ABC
  • Electricity: fuboTV (try for free)

Something to see

Zia Cooke takes command

Boston — the 2022 Naismith Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year — led her team in scoring, rebounds, blocks and steals last season. She’s still a force to be reckoned with, averaging 13 points and 10 rebounds per game while shooting more than 71 percent from the field. She’s not the only notable player for the Gamecocks, however.

Cooke has made a huge leap from last season. She averaged 10.7 points per game in the 2021-22 season. Now the senior guard leads South Carolina’s offense in the early stages with 16.7 points per game and has displayed an improved three-point shooting of 50 percent (9 of 18) in the first three games this season.

Staley is Encourage diversity this season, and Cooke is one of the players she believes has the talent to play more than one role. Cooke was a point guard in high school but mostly played shooting guard for South Carolina. This year, Staley Cooke let the point guide preseason so she “gained an understanding of how the position works at this level” and was therefore even better informed on offense.

Stanford doesn’t just rely on All-Americans

The Cardinal Attache starts with All-Americans Cameron Brink and Haley Jones, but neither of them have had to carry the team so far this season. Top scorer is currently senior guard Hannah Jump with 13.2 points per game. She was also impressive from across the arc as she is stunning with a 20/34 (58.8 percent) from the 3 point range.

Sophomore forward Kiki Iriafen is the second-best scorer with 11.8 points per game. Another solid contributor on offense so far has been Lauren Betts, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2022. Betts is averaging 10.4 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. She’s also dangerous on defense as she’s second on the team with 10 blocks – only Brink has registered more (19).

Of course, that doesn’t mean that Brink and Jones are no longer valuable players. Brink is averaging 10.0 points and 6.8 rebounds per game while Jones is averaging 8.6 points and 5.6 rebounds per game. You’ll both be needed to succeed against a South Carolina team of talent and versatility.

Stanford needs to get past the South Carolina defense

After five games, Stanford has the eighth best offense in the nation, averaging 91 points per game. As a team, the Cardinal shoots at 55.1 percent from the field, which was a real team effort with eight players shooting at 52 percent or better.

However, that offensive depth will be put to the test on Sunday. South Carolina had one of the best defenses in the nation last season and that continues to be a strength for this team. The Gamecocks keep opponents at 39.3 points per game and just 24.3 percent when shooting from the field. Although South Carolina has only played three games, the Gamecocks deserve credit for holding 17th-ranked Maryland to just 56 points last week.

Choose to win

South Carolina: This will likely be a close game, but the Gamecocks will survive if Boston has one of their signature monster games. Boston scored at least 18 points in 18 games last season. She also recorded a total of 30 double-doubles in the 2021/22 season, including 27 in a row. If there’s a time to shine early this season, it’s certainly in a fight against No. 2 Stanford.

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