Big game coming up for the defending national champions of women's college basketball. USC will be on the road Monday night when they play Maryland.

It's the first top 15 matchup of the year for the Gamecocks and their first true road game of the season.

Carolina is no stranger to playing some of the best teams early in the season. Last year they played Ohio State, Louisville and Duke in the first month of the year on their way to a national title.

Dawn Staley, who has 50 wins against nationally ranked opponents at South Carolina, loves this kinds of games and wishes they can happen more often.

"I could play as big of competition as Maryland each and every game I would. Playing them on the road, playing a top 25 in the country can only help us. Win, lose or draw it can only help us. From a RPI standpoint and our body of work when it comes to the end of the season," Staley said.

There are more benefits than risks when playing the best teams early and often and Staley stands by that.

"Because we play these types of games it always gives us an advantage when it comes committee time. Where you want to play people on the road, you want to play top 25 teams on the road because it helps your RPI."

Staley will still be without senior guard Bianca Cuevas-Moore who is still healing up her knee injury. But she is traveling with the team.

USC and Maryland tip off at 7 on Monday night on ESPN2.