Two of the top teams in women's hoops face off out west in USC and UCLA. Can the Bruins find a way to slow down Trojan star JuJu Watkins?
TV schedule: Saturday, December 30th, 8:00 pm ET, Pac-12 Network
Arena: Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles, California
It's been a great start to the season for Pac-12 Women's Basketball, with five teams currently ranked in the top-12 of the latest AP rankings. Two of them, both residing in Los Angeles, face off this weekend.
USC (10-0) started the season with a win over top-10 Ohio State, along with beating Penn State and Seton Hall later on. They're led by JuJu Watkins, the No. 1 class of 2023 freshman recruit who has somehow managed to be better than expected. She leads the team with 26.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg, and 3.9 apg, including a season-high of 35 pts and 6 stls against Le Monye.
Senior guard McKenzie Forbes (12.9 ppg) and forward Rayah Marshall (14.3 ppg and 10.0 rpg) are the other key pieces on the roster. They're a strong shooting team as well, ranking in the top-20 nationally at 38% from three-point range.
The Trojans will face their toughest opponent yet in local rival UCLA (11-0). They were a top-20 team a year ago with several freshmen starters and now as sophomores, they're ready to make a potential Final four run as the current No. 2 team in the country.
The Bruins, who average over 90 ppg on the season, have five players currently averaging at least 13.5 ppg. 6'7 sophomore center Lauren Betts leads the way with 16.9 ppg and 9.2 rpg, while senior guard Charisma Osborne is putting up 14.5 ppg and 4.5 apg. They're a top-5 offense nationally and has wins over UConn, Ohio State, and Florida State.
This matchup is going to come down to whether or not Watkins can carry USC against the balanced Trojans. I think she'll get her numbers but the Trojans can't guard everyone and UCLA has more than proven they're for real. At home, they should roll.
Prediction: UCLA 86, USC 73