Kelly Graves' "aggressive" nonconference slate, Pac-12 grind will test UO

Kelly Graves might have the nation’s top-ranked basketball team when the women’s preseason Associated Press poll is released.

And Oregon has a 2019-20 schedule to match.

“This is by far the most aggressive schedule we’ve had since I came to Oregon,” Graves said Thursday after the Pac-12 released the full slate.

The Ducks, coming of the first Final Four appearance in program history, will play six games against teams that finished last season ranked in the Top 10 and 12 games against teams that finished in the Top 25.

The home schedule at Matthew Knight Arena features a Sweet 16 rematch with South Dakota State (Dec. 8), a Pac-12 Tournament title game rematch with Stanford (Jan. 16) and the first leg of back-to-back Civil Wars with Oregon State (Jan. 24).

Oregon will play its first true road game of the season at Syracuse (Nov. 24), matches up with ACC power Louisville in the Virgin Islands (Nov. 30) and takes on 11-time national champion UConn in Storrs, Conn. (Feb. 3).

“It’s going to be difficult,” Graves said. “Especially in a conference like ours where you look at the number of Top-10 teams, Top-25 teams we’re going to play. Then you couple that with a nonleague schedule that’s as aggressive as any in the country. …

“My goodness sakes. It’s going to be a demanding a schedule.”

The Ducks’ most challenging game won’t count in the standings. Team USA will play Oregon in an exhibition game Nov. 9 at Matthew Knight Arena, which is not part of the season ticket package.

“That’s the big team,” Graves noted. “(Diana) Taurasi, (Elena) Delle Donne, Sue Bird, A’ja Wilson. That’s going to be event. I would sure hope our fans will come out for that.”

All 18 of Oregon’s regular-season conference games will be televised on either ESPN, ESPN2 or the Pac-12 Networks.

Down the stretch, the Ducks have back-to-back road trips at the Los Angeles and Bay Area schools before finishing the home schedule against Washington State (Feb. 28) and Washington (March 1).

Oregon, led by national player of the year Sabrina Ionescu and all-American Ruthy Hebard, will be the favorite to win the program’s third consecutive Pac-12 championship.

“This is the team do it with,” Graves said of the challenging road back to the Final Four. “It’s going to get us ready for the NCAA (Tournament). We’re going to be able to say we’ve played the best at home, on the road and on neutral courts.”

Follow Ryan Thorburn on Twitter @RGDuckFootball and email podcast mailbag questions to rthorburn@registerguard.com. For more Oregon sports coverage, visit DuckSports.com.

Oregon Ducks women’s 2019-20 schedule

Nov. 9 TEAM USA (exhibition) 4 p.m.

Nov. 11 NORTHEASTERN TBD

Nov. 13 UTAH STATE TBD

Nov. 16 TEXAS SOUTHERN TBD

Nov. 24 at Syracuse TBD

Nov. 28 Oklahoma State* 1:15 p.m.

Nov. 29 Texas-Arlington* 1:15 p.m.

Nov. 30 Louisville* 1:15 p.m.

Dec. 8 SOUTH DAKOTA STATE 12 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Dec. 14 at Long Beach State TBD

Dec. 16 UC RIVERSIDE TBD

Dec. 21 KANSAS STATE TBD

Dec. 28 CORBAN (exhibition) TBD

Jan. 3 COLORADO 7 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Jan. 5 UTAH 2 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Jan. 10 at Arizona State 5 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Jan. 12 at Arizona 11 a.m. (Pac12Nets)

Jan. 16 STANFORD 6 p.m. (ESPN/ESPN2)

Jan. 19 CALIFORNIA 2 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Jan. 24 OREGON STATE 7 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Jan. 26 at Oregon State 1 p.m. (ESPN2)

Jan. 30 at Utah 7 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Feb. 1 at Colorado 1 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Feb. 3 at UConn TBD (ESPN/ESPN2)

Feb. 7 ARIZONA 6 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Feb. 9 ARIZONA STATE 2 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Feb. 14 at UCLA 8 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Feb. 16 at USC 1 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Feb. 21 at California 6 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

Feb. 24 at Stanford 6 p.m. (ESPN2)

Feb. 28 WASHINGTON STATE 8 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

March 1 WASHINGTON 12 p.m. (Pac12Nets)

March 5-8 Pac-12 Tournament** TBD

* St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

** Las Vegas