For the second time in six weeks Stanford and Cal face some of the giants of women's basketball on the same weekend.

The Bay Area schools hope for better results than last month when the Cardinal lost at top-ranked Connecticut 76-57 and the Golden Bears stumbled at home against No. 2 Duke 70-58.

Since then, sixth-ranked Stanford has breezed to eight consecutive victories as it heads into its annual showdown Saturday against No. 3 Tennessee at Maples Pavilion.

No. 21 Cal will put its six-game win streak on the line Sunday when playing undefeated UConn at Madison Square Garden in New York.

"They got the best team, with the best players and the best coach," Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. "This is exactly what we want for Cal basketball."

Stanford also faces a steep challenge against the Lady Vols (10-0), off to their best start since winning the national title in 2008. The Cardinal (9-1) knows what to expect in the 26th consecutive year of the regional rivalry between national powers.

"There are certain things when you play Tennessee you have to do year in and year out: No. 1, you have to take care of the ball," Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. "No. 2, you have to rebound."

Those tenets haven't changed although Tennessee's coach did. Holly Warlick runs the show in Knoxville, Tenn., since legendary coach Pat Summitt resigned in 2012, a year after announcing she had early-onset dementia, Alzheimer's type.

Last month, the school unveiled a statue of Summitt, who led Tennessee to eight national championships and 18 Final Four appearances. She has won more games (1,098) than any Division I men's or women's coach.

After losing in the Elite Eight three consecutive years, the Lady Vols appear to have rebounded behind senior guard Meighan Simmons, the Southeastern Conference co-player of the year last season.

Bashaara Graves, a 6-foot-2 forward, was the conference's freshman of the year. Tennessee also has 6-6 freshman center Mercedes Russell, who was ranked No. 1 by some recruiting services.

"They go big across that front line and are very active with their hands," VanDerveer said.

The Lady Vols have four players averaging in double figures. The Cardinal has two: Chiney Ogwumike and Amber Orrange. With the Pac-12 season opener fast approaching, VanDerveer still is searching for a supporting cast for the team's two leaders.

She's not sure of her lineup despite returning four starters from a team that went 33-3 last season. Part of the reason is the fine play of freshmen Kailee Johnson, Erica McCall and Lili Thompson.

The 6-3 McCall, who has shown promise as an adept rebounder, is excited about facing the Volunteers for the first time.

"When you think Tennessee you think of big and tall and rebounding," McCall said.

When the school is Connecticut, coaches think about scaling Mount Everest. Cal (7-2) enters the game having struggled with senior standout Gennifer Brandon on an indefinite leave for undisclosed reasons. Also, junior forward Justine Hartman had missed three games after suffering from concussionlike symptoms. But forward Kyra Dunn is eligible this weekend for the first time since transferring from Pittsburgh last season.

Some teams trying to find their identities might not welcome facing the UConn juggernaut. Not Cal.

"We have a group that likes that big stage," Gottlieb said.

The coach hopes the Bears play well against the Huskies (11-0), who handed host Duke its first defeat of the season in a 83-61 rout this week.

An energetic performance Sunday could have a positive carry-over into Pac-12 play as the Bears face new expectations after advancing to their first Final Four in history in April.

"Our best basketball is ahead of us, but I'm pleased with what we've seen so far," Gottlieb said.

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865 and follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.

  • Tennessee (10-0) at Stanford (9-1), 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Pac 12 Networks

  • Cal (7-2) vs. Connecticut (11-0) in New York, 10:30 a.m. Sunday, ESPN