For the final year of Pac-12 play, Arizona women’s basketball will get started sooner than typical. The conference released the weekly pairings on Monday. The schedule has the Wildcats getting started in league play at Arizona State on Dec. 17, earlier than any other pair of rivals except Washington and Washington State.
Last year, the league moved to a model that has rival teams starting earlier than usual. Arizona and ASU already had their nonconference schedules in place by the time the decision was made, so they had to hold their first game at the end of December. This year, there was no such stumbling block.
After playing the Sun Devils in mid-December, the Wildcats will return to out-of-conference play in games against Gonzaga (Dec. 20) and Seattle (Dec. 31). They will then finish out the conference slate.
The first pair of opponents will be Colorado and Utah. Arizona will host the Mountain schools the weekend of Jan. 5-7. Last season, the Wildcats split with the Buffaloes and the Utes. UA won at home and dropped both games on the road.
The Wildcats will travel to face the Oregon schools the weekend of Jan. 12-14. As with the Mountain opponents, Arizona split games with Oregon and Oregon State last season. Again, the split came down to homecourt advantage in all four games.
After the first two weekends, the Wildcats will be done facing the Mountain schools and the Oregon schools. Arizona will not make the return trips to Salt Lake and Boulder, while Oregon and Oregon State will not come to Tucson.
In the third full weekend of conference play, UA will stay on the road. The team will travel to Washington and Washington State the weekend of Jan. 19-21. Arizona hosted both teams last year, sweeping the weekend. It did not make the return trip to Seattle and Pullman.
Arizona head coach Adia Barnes and her players will wind up the first half of the season with a trip back home. They will host Stanford and California over the weekend of Jan. 26-28. The Wildcats swept the Golden Bears and were swept by the Cardinal last season.
February kicks off with ASU coming to Tucson for the second half of the rivalry series. It’s a series that Arizona swept last year.
The conference simply notes that the UA-ASU game will happen the weekend of Feb. 2-4. The exact date has not been announced.
The Wildcats go back on the road the weekend of Feb. 9-11 to visit UCLA and USC. The teams only faced each other once last season. Arizona defeated both the Bruins and the Women of Troy in Los Angeles.
The Washington schools make the return visit to Tucson the weekend of Feb. 16-18. Then, the Wildcats go back on the road for return games against the Bay Area teams the weekend of Feb. 23-25.
Arizona winds up its final Pac-12 regular season with home games against UCLA and USC. It should mark two straight weeks of tough opponents with Stanford followed by the LA schools.
Exact dates, times, and television information will be released by the Pac-12 at a later date.
Arizona heads into the 2023-24 season with some questions hovering around it. While the Wildcats welcomed two McDonald’s All-Americans in Breya Cunningham and Jada Williams, two of a trio of top 25 players in the class, they will only have 10 healthy players this season. All four of Arizona’s recruits were ranked in the ESPN HoopGurlz top 100, but highest-ranked recruit Montaya Dew suffered an injury before the season and will miss the year.
Arizona lost four of its five starters after last year with three exhausting their eligibility and one transferring. In addition, four reserves transferred after the season concluded.
Arizona added seven players after the season. Dew enrolled a semester early but did not play. In addition to the three top 25 recruits, No. 96 Skylar Jones committed late in the cycle. Courtney Blakely, Sali Kourouma, Isis Beh, and Fanta Gassama transferred in, although Gassama left the program last week.