Oregon went to its first-ever Final Four in 2019 and is hoping to carry that momentum into their first national title in 2020. But before it can get to that, it will have to get through its non-conference schedule, and there are some real challenges on the docket.
The game that catches the eye first is the date with UConn on Feb. 3. The Huskies are the biggest name in the sport, and even in a down year for their program’s standards, they still went to their 12th-straight Final Four. Death, taxes and Connecticut being a national title contender are the three guarantees in life, and Oregon will have its hands full when it heads to Gampel Pavilion. This game has a very real chance of being a national championship or Final Four preview.
Oregon will also play Louisville, a No. 1 seed from a year ago that lost to No. 2 seed Connecticut in the Elite Eight, on Nov. 30 in the U.S. Virgin Islands as part of the Paradise Jam. The Cardinals graduated Asia Durr and lost some other production they will have to find a way to replace, but their experience and head coach Jeff Walz on the sideline are worth respecting.
The Ducks will travel to Syracuse to challenge the Orange on Nov. 24 in the first of the team’s cross-country voyages. Last year, Syracuse reached the second round as a No. 3 seed, falling to No. 6 seed South Dakota State, 75-64. The Jackrabbits also found their way onto Oregon’s schedule, with that meeting set for Dec. 8 in Eugene. South Dakota State’s top two scorers from last campaign, Macy Miller and Madison Guebert, have moved on, but the rest of its contributors from its Sweet 16 team are back and give Oregon an early-season test.
Other highlights of Oregon’s out-of-conference slate include a home battle versus Kansas State on Dec. 21 and a neutral game against Oklahoma State on Nov. 28 in the Paradise Jam. The Ducks bring back plenty of the talent that went to the Final Four and should be as fun to watch as always. Keep tabs.