The all-you-can-eat basketball buffet is here — Nicki Collen talks Baylor — Must-click women’s basketball links

The IX: Basketball Wednesday with Howard Megdal, Nov. 1, 2023

Happy Basketball Wednesday! The WNBA season, even expanded, is just 40 games long. It involves 12 teams in finite markets. The playoffs are over in a month, even with expanded days off between games. It’s like a gourmet meal prepared at a fine-dining establishment. You know you’re getting the very best, it will be delicious, and the check will come too soon.

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That’s a truly wonderful experience. It is not, however, how we consume women’s college basketball. Here, amid the fallen leaves, we’ll be getting more than 350 Division I women’s teams starting play on November 6. Expand to D-II, D-III and NAIA, and that number swells to north of 1,300.

There are entire days of the WNBA season when no teams play. Saturdays, even! You will never, ever have to go a minute without watching college basketball.

It is not always fine dining. Let’s be real about this. But if you love the game, it is always filling, and it is frequently extremely delicious, too. It is the holiday meals I spend with my wife’s family in Florida, going to Golden Corral.

There’s something for everyone. There’s superstars like Caitlin Clark and Angel Reese, back for encores. There’s returns from injuries for Azzi Fudd, Paige Bueckers and a UConn team that looks as formidable as it’s been since Breanna Stewart left town. There’s a Utah team that believes, rightly, it could have won it all last year and returns everybody, and there’s a South Carolina team with plenty of firepower and a big in Kamilla Cardoso who might shatter all the single-season marks set by her predecessors Aliyah Boston and A’ja Wilson.

You want your players big and young? Texas has 6’9 Abbie Boutilier, a giant grown in Flower Mound, TX. You want your players small and experienced? Look no further than 5’3 Mississippi State transfer Lauren Park-Lane.

I moved this summer, North Jersey to South, and it means there are six Division I schools within an easy drive to Philly for me, Princeton 35 minutes from here, with Rutgers and Rider less than an hour away, Seton Hall not much further, the New York City schools a train ride away and even Maryland a little less than two hours from my home. My nonconference calendar looks like one long road trip.

And even my alma mater, the dangerously underrated Bard Raptors, boast their biggest roster and significant depth for the first time in many years. I get to see them in Jersey this month, and at home soon after that.

We’re not even talking about all the high school prospects I need to get a live look at here in the Garden State, women’s basketball’s breadbasket. (City of Basketball Love is hosting a tournament in December just over the Delaware River, too.)

It’s been a challenging few days for us all, navigating that gap in live basketball here in the United States between the moment the final buzzer sounded at Barclays Center on Oct. 18 and the Nov. 6 openers. There have been some secret scrimmages, EuroLeague Women, even, I hear, the NBA.

But the all-you-can-eat buffet is coming, friends. Hope you came hungry.

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This week in women’s basketball

What does Caitlin Clark do after she reaches superstardom?

Beautiful from Alysha Clark on her father.

Usher. The Aces. Enjoy.

Get well soon, Brooke.

And get ready for the buffet: We will have 17 conference previews at The Next for you, and most have already published. Bookmark this.

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Five at The IX: Nicki Collen, Baylor head coach

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
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By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
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By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
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Written by Howard Megdal

Howard is the founder of The Next and editor-in-chief.