Caitlin Clark, Iowa look for revenge, another scoring record: Five women's games to watch

We’re bringing this to you a little earlier than usual, but we have a good reason: Power Five conference tournaments start late next week, which means teams have to wrap up regular-season play a couple days early. (The one exception to this is the Big 12. The women's tournament runs in conjunction with the men’s, which means the women's championship game isn't until March 12; the rest of the Power Five will have crowned tournament champs by March 10.) Point is, we don't want you to miss anything. We're getting into crunch time, and everyone should study tournament-bound teams now, before the bracket comes out.

There are all sorts of good matchups this week; it’s hard to pick just five games to watch. It’s easy to be pulled to the TV when both teams are ranked, but if you’re serious about winning your office pool this year, you should also check in on non-ranked teams and matchups so you can start making a list of potential Cinderellas. We helped you out with a couple of suggestions below.

Of course, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know about Iowa guard Caitlin Clark’s chase for the all-time NCAA scoring record, men or women. She should pass that milestone Sunday, and don’t you want to be able to tell your grandkids you watched that game?

Caitlin Clark has her sights set on Pete Maravich's all-time NCAA basketball scoring record.
Caitlin Clark has her sights set on Pete Maravich's all-time NCAA basketball scoring record.

Portland at No. 13 Gonzaga

Wednesday, 11 p.m. ET on ESPNU

Do not be fooled by Gonzaga’s 21.3 average margin of victory in the weaker-than-usual WCC. The Zags are legit, easily the best mid-major team in women’s college basketball, and poised for a deep run in March. (Sound familiar? Just remember that this year, only one team from Spokane has been ranked all season.) Going undefeated in conference play is a tall task, but GU has been up to it with the stellar play of three veterans in forward Yvonne Ejim (20.1 points, 8.4 rebounds) and twin guards Kayleigh (12.2 points, 4.7 assists) and Kaylynne Truong (11.9 points, 5.9 assists). Portland pushed Gonzaga last year — can the Pilots pull off an upset here?

No. 19 Syracuse at No. 11 NC State

Thursday, 7 p.m. ET on ACC Network

Have you heard of Dyaisha Fair? If not, you’re missing out, and you’d be wise to study up on the Syracuse senior guard before you fill out your bracket next month. With 3,302 career points — she averages 21.8 this season — she’s already the fifth best scorer all time in NCAA women’s basketball history. But scoring a lot on NC State, a program that’s long prided itself on defense, isn’t easy. It gets harder when you remember that the Wolfpack got upset by unranked Duke last week, and will be anxious to make a statement while getting back on the winning track.

No. 5 Stanford at No. 16 Oregon State

Thursday, 10 p.m. ET on Pac-12 Network

The Beavers might be out of the conference championship race after a loss to unranked Washington last week, but a win over Stanford would help them solidify their case as an NCAA host and help them lock up a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament. To do that, they’ll have to contend with Stanford twin towers Cameron Brink (17.7 points, 11.3 rebounds) and Kiki Iriafen (18.7 points, 11.2 rebounds). Will reigning 6th woman of the year and Pac-12 freshman of the year Raegan Beers (17.5 points, 10.7 rebounds), who’s missed the last three games with a broken nose, be back to help patrol the paint?

No. 2 Ohio State at No. 6 Iowa

Sunday at 1 p.m. ET on FOX

Surely you remember what happened the last two times these teams met: A record crowd turned out to watch the Buckeyes upset Caitlin Clark and Iowa, which resulted in a court storm and Clark being taken out by a fan. The rematch will take place in Iowa City, on senior day — will it be the only senior day Clark participates in, or is she coming back for a fifth year? Your guess is as good as ours, but one thing is for sure: She will be hungry for revenge. Oh, she’s also on pace to break Pete Maravich’s scoring record this game. On the other end, Iowa must slow Jacy Sheldon (17.9 points, 3.6 assists) and Cotie McMahon (14.1 points, 6.5 rebounds), the Buckeyes’ terrific one-two punch.

Duke at North Carolina

4 p.m. ET Sunday on ESPN

This might be the most intriguing matchup of the weekend. Both of these teams will make the NCAA tournament, and Duke pulled off two big wins over ranked teams last week, while North Carolina has been ranked on and off all season. When they met a couple weeks ago, a frantic back-and-forth game ultimately led to a 68-60 Blue Devils overtime win. UNC had as much as a 14-point lead that day, but couldn’t hold on. Neither of these teams is on track to host the first two rounds, but they’re fighting to better their seed in both the ACC and NCAA tournaments every day. This is a game with big postseason implications. UNC can’t let Duke freshman Delaney Thomas, who scored a career-high 19 in the first meeting, have another banner day.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Caitlin Clark closes in on another scoring milestone: Games to watch