It’s only so helpful to think about this so early in the year, but a handful of tough stretches on the Oregon women’s basketball schedule could threaten to derail a season full of potential.
On paper, the most difficult sequence for the Ducks starts in early February. The month begins with head coach Paul Westhead’s squad welcoming conference Bay Area foes. Stanford is enjoying its 13th-straight season as the preseason No. 1 in conference coaches polling, and Cal boasts four returning starters from a tournament-contending team last year. The Golden Bears also start the year on an eight-game home stand, giving them a solid opportunity to get early momentum.
The load lightens up Feb. 8-10 with road trips to Utah and Colorado before their final road trip of the year — back to the Bay to tackle the Bears and the Cardinal again, this time on the road.
If Oregon is still competing in that grueling stretch late in the year, it will mean it stole some games earlier in its schedule. A big one circled on the calendar for the Ducks is a home game on New Year’s Eve against perennial powerhouse UConn. The showdown with the seven-time national champions comes just before conference play tips off.
The Oregon women will also travel to Hawaii this year for the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown in late November. Slated to play against the Ducks on the islands are Hawaii, Oklahoma and Arkansas.
The men’s team will have to wait until Jan. 26 to get a shot at avenging last year’s season-ending loss to Washington in the quarterfinals of the NIT. Before the Ducks break into conference play, however, they’ll play high-profile nonconference matchups within the Global Sports Classic.
Depending on how the GSC plays out, Oregon could face Vanderbilt, UNLV, Cincinnati and/or Iowa State. Those four opponents alone combined for four wins in last year’s NCAA Tournament, with Cincinnati making an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen.
Conference play begins for the Ducks on Jan. 6 against Oregon State in Corvallis. The Civil War rematch is scheduled for Feb. 28 at Matthew Knight Arena.
The men’s season will culminate in a two-game road trip to the Rockies to face Colorado and Utah. The Buffaloes were the lone Pac-12 representative in last year’s Tournament, upsetting UNLV before losing to Baylor in the second round.