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This week in Conference USA: Old Dominion vies to continue hot start against in-state rival Virginia

Can the Monarchs pull off their first regular-season win over Virginia in 19 years? Plus, how last year’s C-USA regular-season and tournament champions are faring and which players are standing out early.

2015 NIT Championship - Semifinals
EDITOR’S NOTE: At Swish Appeal, we prefer to feature the players we cover as the lead art for our articles, since they are the ones who make the game come alive. Unfortunately, these photos are not always available, leaving us to make do with what is available. It makes one wonder, though: How successful does a women’s college basketball team have to be in order to warrant a national photographer’s presence at their games — even just their national tournament games (which tends to be enough for men’s teams)? Anyway, nothing against the Old Dominion men’s basketball team, who also suffers from a dearth of photos available to us, suggesting that this is a mid-major coverage problem as well. However, when “a dearth of photos” still happens to be “more than zero,” it speaks to a wider problem in women’s sports that we at Swish Appeal — and the wider women’s basketball community — would prefer to see addressed.
Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

For a couple of Division I teams just two and a half hours apart, the Old Dominion Monarchs and the Virginia Cavaliers haven’t seen much of each other lately. Although this will be the 34th all-time meeting between the teams, it will be their first in the regular season since 2006, when Virginia beat Old Dominion in the latter’s season opener.

The Monarchs have the edge ever since, though, in a pair of games with much more at stake. In 2008, Old Dominion got the win to advance to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen, while in 2015, the Monarchs beat the Cavaliers once more to advance to the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament.

As this young season progresses, everything’s coming up Monarchs, as they’ve won their first three games to start the season. Their closest game, a 76-72 overtime win over Cincinnati, saw Ajah Wayne and Victoria Morris surpass 20 points, while Taylor Edwards had 18 points. In fact, all three of those players are averaging double figures this season, with Wayne averaging a double-double with 10 rebounds per game.

Virginia, on the other hand, is still trying to figure out what they’re about. Their most egregious performance so far has been in the way of turnovers, as they’re already averaging 28 per game (Old Dominion, on the other hand, is averaging almost half that, at 14.3 per game). The Cavaliers are also shooting just 34 percent on the season for an average of 47.5 points per game. Although these numbers are certainly reflective of the schedule that Virginia has played so far — one top-10 opponent and one unranked opponent — that doesn’t mean they’ll have an easier time against the Monarchs.

All things considered, Old Dominion is poised to collect their first regular-season win over Virginia since 1999 unless the Cavaliers can improve across the board and win on the road.

Monarchs in action

Old Dominion Monarchs (3-0) vs. Virginia Cavaliers (0-2)

When: Sunday, Nov. 18 at 2 p.m. ET

Where: Ted Constant Convocation Center, Norfolk, VA

How to watch: ESPN+

Notes: One way the Cavaliers have had the edge over their opponents so far this season is in the way of rebounding: they bested No. 6 Mississippi State and Kentucky in their two losses, and average 42 rebounds per game as a result. That said, Old Dominion comes into this matchup averaging 46.7 rebounds per game, suggesting that this game should be an absolute battle on the glass.

Elsewhere in C-USA:

  • Last season’s regular-season champion UAB is also undefeated to start the season, most recently blowing out Memphis on Thursday, 85-54. Next up, the Blazers travel to face Chicago State on Tuesday (1 p.m. ET, no viewing info).
  • 2018 conference tournament champion Western Kentucky, on the other hand, has started the season 0-4. Two of those losses were to ranked opponents — No. 5 Louisville and No. 13 Iowa — while the others were to Oklahoma and Central Michigan. The Lady Toppers’ next game is against Southern Illinois on Tuesday (12 p.m. ET, C-USA audio)
  • Charlotte guard Laia Raventós was named to the Preseason Nancy Lieberman Award Watch List last month, an award recognizing the top point guard in the country. In the team’s two games so far, Raventós is averaging 12 points, 5.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game. Catch her in action when the 49ers travel to take on Fordham today (2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+).
  • In the first edition of weekly C-USA honors, Middle Tennessee forward Alex Johnson was named Player of the Week after averaging 15.5 points per game on 67 percent shooting to start the season. Charlotte’s Jazmin Harris and Old Dominion’s Ajah Wayne were named Freshmen of the Week, while UTSA’s Marie Benson made the Honor Roll after posting a career-high 29 points as part of her first career double-double.

Full C-USA schedule and results