The Daily Pennsylvanian is a student-run nonprofit.

Please support us by disabling your ad blocker on our site.

Now-senior guard Mandy McGurk during last season's game against Harvard at the Palestra on Jan. 29. Credit: Kylie Cooper

Penn women's basketball faces an intense introduction to this season, with a challenging month of non-conference play against high-leverage opponents to precede Ivy League matchups. When January rolls around, though, Ancient Eight play surely will not serve any breathing room to the Quakers, who are aiming for the highest prize. Here are the five biggest games you don’t want to miss this season.

Nov. 13 @ Northwestern 

The Quakers will head to Evanston, Ill. to face off against Big 10 opponent Northwestern in their second game of the season. The two programs haven’t gone head-to-head since 2009, so gauging an accurate result to the matchup is difficult. But the Wildcats will likely shape up to be a dangerous opponent for the Quakers, as they return four of their six players who surpassed 500 minutes on the court last season.

Nov. 17 vs. Villanova 

As soon as Penn returns from Northwestern, back-to-back games against Big 5 rivals Saint Joseph’s and Villanova await the Quakers — the more challenging of the two being the latter, another team named the Wildcats. The Quakers will seek revenge after suffering a close 66-63 loss against Villanova in last year’s matchup. The biggest threat on the Wildcats' roster who the Red and Blue will need to avert in the frontcourt is senior Maddy Siegrist. The star forward led the program to its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2018 last season, averaging 25.3 points and reigning as the Big East Player of the Year.

Nov. 23 @ USC 

Penn will spend Thanksgiving break in California, where it will take on Pac-12 foe USC. Penn's opponent returns All-Pac-12 preseason honorable mention sophomore Rayah Marshall and its leading three-point scorer, senior Alyson Miura. The Trojans enter only their second season under the leadership of coach Lindsay Gottlieb, and welcome a whopping seven transfers to their squad. Penn can aim to capitalize on the team in the early season where it will have yet to perfect its rotation with its many new names and dynamics. But the Quakers must step up in return to be well-prepared and fit for the trip across the country.

Jan. 7 vs. Columbia 

Having lost both matchups against the Ancient Eight rival last winter — within close margins — it will be critical for the Quakers to collect a win against the Lions in conference play. Otherwise, hopes to hoist the Ivy League Championship trophy come March will be dim. The Lion pack boosts maturity and scoring depth on its roster, as seen in conference single-season three-point record-holder, junior Abbey Hsu. Penn’s offense will hold the more exciting story to play for, as the program looks to upset Columbia, and fans can expect high-scoring clashes between both teams as the calendar turns.

March 3 vs. Princeton 

Ranked atop the Ancient Eight standings in the Ivy League preseason media poll and favored to win the conference title, the Tigers will be the toughest opponent for the Red and Blue next year. The program is coming back from a season where it was undefeated in Ivy League play and secured its seventh NCAA Tournament appearance in the past decade. Princeton boosts a stacked lineup and is headed by Ivy League Coach of the Year Carla Berube. If the Quakers want a shot at the championship, at least one win against the Tigers is a must, and its best chance will come on the Palestra floor.