Regular season games on national television are big news in women’s college basketball. They help with exposure which helps with recruiting. Historically, the Arizona Wildcats have not received that kind of exposure, but times have changed.
The 2021-22 season will mark the second straight year that the Wildcats appear on the ESPN family of networks as they clash with Stanford on Jan. 30 at Maples Pavilion. The game will air on ESPN2 at 2 p.m. MST.
“It’s great for recruiting just because more people see you,” head coach Adia Barnes said last year. “I think it’s great to be on a national stage because more writers are watching. It just gives you more recognition. I think a lot of times on the West Coast we’re forgotten. I don’t think we get as much love as the East Coast does or the SEC or other conferences. I mean, we are the best conference in the country.”
Arizona made good use of that exposure last January, dominating the Ducks 57-41. It was the first time the Wildcats had ever played a regular season game on any ESPN channel. They were given two more opportunities later in the season, losing to Stanford and dominating Oregon for a second time in games aired by ESPN2.
This season, the Pac-12 will have five total regular season games featuring women’s teams from the league air on either ESPN or ESPN2. Three of those will be during the conference season while two more will feature league teams against opponents from other conferences.
The conference missed out on at least one opportunity to get even more exposure. After playing a 22-game conference-only schedule last season, the Pac-12 opted to return to an 18-game schedule this season. It also chose to go back to the existing schedule rotation for those games. That rotation has Arizona and Stanford playing just once, eliminating a home-and-home arrangement for last year’s national champions and national runners-up.
In addition to Stanford and Arizona, the other Pac-12 teams that will appear on ESPN networks are Oregon and UCLA, The Ducks will face Connecticut and Stanford. The Cardinal will also face Texas and UCLA. The Pac-12 Tournament title game will air on ESPN2 on Sunday, Mar. 6.