January 1, 2024 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: Roaring into 2024 with a loaded Pac-12

'You're going to have matchups that you're going to circle in this Pac-12 calendar every weekend'

In 2024’s first episode of Locked On Women’s Basketball, Missy Heidrick welcomes Michelle Smith to discuss the strength of the Pac-12. The conference is currently ranked No. 1 in the RPI, a measure of overall strength, after going 102-18 in nonconference play.

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Leading the way in the Pac-12 are No. 2 UCLA, No. 5 Colorado, No. 8 Stanford, No. 9 USC and No. 15 Utah. Michelle shares some early takeaways about the conference:

“This is going to be a grind in the last Pac-12 season. … We’re already starting to see it. We had some pretty high-profile [games] this weekend. We opened with rivalry games, and we opened with Utah-Colorado, and we opened with SC-UCLA. I mean, these are matchups between highly ranked teams. Not just ranked teams — highly ranked teams. And they were great games. And I think this is the sneak preview of what the Pac-12’s going to look like. … You’re going to have matchups that you’re going to circle in this Pac-12 calendar every weekend.”

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Michelle explains what it feels like in Los Angeles with UCLA and USC being elite this season alongside 26-time regular-season champion Stanford:

“We actually have a vibe in LA. That’s the story. … And it’s not that UCLA and USC haven’t been good. … I’ve been at a lot of games at the Galen Center at USC where it is nearly empty. And I remember back in the day, 15 years ago, when the Pac-12 Tournament was in Los Angeles when they put the men and women’s tournament together at Staples, and it was not full. And I’m not going to call out anybody specifically. But the major newspapers down there were not covering women’s basketball, were not paying attention. And times have changed.”

Related reading: Sights and sounds from UCLA and USC’s Tinseltown tussle

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