The busiest day of the women’s basketball season so far as 10 of the state’s 13 programs will do battle. A look at the matchups:
VCU (5-1) at No. 17 Arizona State (3-2), 4 p.m.
This first-round game in the Sun Devils’ ASU Classic looms as by far the toughest test for the stingy, disruptive defense that has fueled the Rams so far. The Sun Devils will be without junior power forward Kelsey Moos (10.7 ppg, 6.3 rpg), who suffered a right ankle injury last week in a loss to No. 2 South Carolina. Arizona State’s other loss was a season-opening 68-64 overtime loss to No. 11 Kentucky.
For what it’s worth, Virginia programs are 0-7 against Top-25 teams so far this season:
No. 10 Oregon State 110, Longwood 45 (road)
No. 8 Texas 79, Hampton 52 (road)
No. 6 Maryland 95, Old Dominion 49 (neutral)
No. 11 Ohio State 75, Liberty 65 (neutral)
No. 8 Mississippi State 92, Norfolk State 34 (road)
No. 16 California 77, Liberty 72 (neutral)
No. 24 (USA Today) Iowa 85, Virginia 73 (home)
Richmond (5-2) at Providence (2-4), 2 p.m.
The Spiders will try to shake off consecutive losses in their first true road game of the season (five home, two neutral-site). Game will reunite Providence graduate assistant Keri Soppe with her ex-teammates – Soppe played point guard for the Spiders the past four seasons and had 12 points and 7 rebounds in Richmond’s 75-59 victory over the Friars last season. The contest will also pit Richmond’s Tuuli Menna against Providence’s Evi Iiskola. Both are Finland natives that played together in club ball and on their national team.
Radford (3-2) at High Point (2-6, 1-0 Big South), 2 p.m.
This matchup marks the Big South opener for Radford, which picked up its second straight victory Wednesday by downing Davidson 79-68. High Point kicked off league play with Tuesday’s 79-68 victory over Longwood, a result that snapped the Panthers’ six-game losing streak.
Norfolk State (0-5) at Morgan State (1-6), 2 p.m.
The tipoff of MEAC play for both teams. Norfolk State has beaten the Bears all four times they’ve met the past two seasons. Morgan State has lost six in a row and has yet to beat a Division I team.
Presbyterian (2-5, 0-1 Big South) at Longwood (1-5, 0-1), 2 p.m.
The Lancers look to improve to 2-0 at home. Guard Daeisha Brown, who suffered an ACL injury early last season, scored 20 points in Longwood’s loss at High Point Monday and is averaging 14.7 ppg over her last three games. The Blue Hose fell at home to UNC Asheville in their Big South opener and are 0-5 against Division I teams.
Drexel (2-4) at Hampton (0-6), 4 p.m.
We’re expecting another low-scoring, grind-it-out affair between these two - The Lady Pirates outdueled the Dragons 45-42 in the first round of the 2015 WNIT and rallied to the previous season’s matchup 50-47. Drexel comes in on a three-game losing streak; Hampton had JMU reeling last Sunday before losing control of things late and falling in overtime.
Charleston Southern (5-2, 1-0 Big South) at Liberty (2-5, 0-1), 5 p.m.
Wednesday’s 61-57 loss at Gardner-Webb was Liberty’s fifth straight loss and first in a Big South opener since the 2009-10 season. But the streaks are all positive for the Lady Flames heading into this one – Liberty has won nine straight in this series, 14 in a row at home against conference foes and 21 straight at home against the Buccaneers. Liberty’s last home loss to Charleston Southern came in 1996.
William and Mary (6-1) at Clemson (2-6), 6 p.m.
This matchup looms as a nice opportunity for a Tribe squad that won four straight and will be out for its third victory in five days against the youthful Tigers (an ACC-high 13 underclassmen on the roster).
NJIT (2-4) at Virginia (5-3), 7 p.m.
The Cavaliers will look to snap a three-game losing streak in this first-ever meeting with the Highlanders. Sophomore guard Mikayla Venson is coming off a career-high 28-point performance in Wednesday’s 85-73 loss to Iowa. It was her second big scoring game in less than a week, as Venson produced a then-career-high 25 points in Virginia’s Thanksgiving Day win over Green Bay.
American (0-7) at JMU (4-1), 7 p.m.
The nightcap of what JMU fans hope will be a successful sports doubleheader as earlier in the day (1 p.m.) the Dukes football team will play Colgate in the second round of the FCS playoffs. Fans can exchange their football ticket for free admission to the basketball game. The women’s basketball Dukes are heavily favored to hold up their end as they’ve won 12 straight in this series. In addition, the Eagles’ winless record this season includes an 0-3 mark against CAA schools (Hofstra, Elon, William and Mary).