UConn women’s basketball unveils ridiculously tough non-conference schedule

(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(WTNH)–You can call Geno Auriemma a lot of things, but you certainly can’t call him ‘scared.’

The UConn womne’s basketball team released its complete 2017-18 nonconference schedule on Tuesday, and, man—to say it’s challenging would be an understatement.

The Huskies will play seven of their 13 non-league games against teams that reached the Sweet 16 last year, and 11 of the 13 against NCAA Tournament teams.

They’ll take on Stanford (Final Four), Cal (second round), Maryland (Sweet 16), UCLA (Sweet 16), Michigan State (first round), Notre Dame (Elite Eight), DePaul (second round), Oklahoma (second round), Texas (Sweet 16), South Carolina (national champs), and Louisville (Sweet 16).

They also have games at Nevada (a homecoming game for Gabby Williams) and against Duquesne in Toronto (a homecoming game for Kia Nurse).

Sure, the American Athletic Conference schedule doesn’t provide the most stringent competition for the Huskies, as they routinely blow out overmatched opponents like Tulsa and Tulane, but Geno Auriemma used every one of his available non-conference dates to challenge his team. You’ve got to give him credit for that.

uconn stanford UConn womens basketball unveils ridiculously tough non conference schedule
A loss at Stanford in 2014 was UConn’s last before their Final Four defeat at the hands of Mississippi State. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

The Stanford game is UConn’s season opener on Sunday, November 12. It’ll be part of the “Countdown to Columbus” event at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio, the site of the 2018 Women’s Final Four.

Stanford finished last season 32-6, and advanced to the Final Four, where it lost to eventual champ South Carolina.

UConn opens its home schedule with a game against Cal on Friday, November 17. The Golden Bears finished last year at 20-14 and earned a No. 9 seed in the NCAA Tournament, advancing to the second round.

The Huskies will then play Maryland on Sunday, November 19. The Terps won the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles last year and finished the year at 32-3. UConn is 6-0 all-time against Maryland and looked to be on a 2017 NCAA Tournament collision course with third-seeded Maryland before the Terps bowed out to seventh-seeded Oregon in the NCAA Regional Semifinal.

UConn will then head out west to take on UCLA on Tuesday, Novmber 21. The Bruins finished 25-9 last season and advanced to the Sweet 16, where UConn sent them home, 86-71.

The Huskies will remain on the road over the Thanksgiving holiday and will square off with Michigan State on Saturday, November 25 in Eugene, Oregon, as part of the Nike/PK 80 doubleheader at the University of Oregon. The tournament is being held in honor of Nike founder Phil Knight’s 80th birthday. The Spartans finished last year with a 21-12 record and reached the NCAA Tournament, losing to Arizona State in the first round.

The west coast swing is capped with a homecoming game for Gabby Williams against the University of Nevada on Tuesday, November 28. Williams is from Sparks, Nev., which is a 10-minute drive from campus. The Wolfpack finished last season with an 11-19 overall record and were 5-13 in the Mountain West.

katie lou samuelson uconn notre dame UConn womens basketball unveils ridiculously tough non conference schedule
UConn knocked off Notre Dame in South Bend last year, 72-61. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin)

The annual contest against Notre Dame, scheduled for Sunday, December 3, is one of the most anticipated of the regular season, but the Huskies have won 35 of the 46 games in the series and have won six-consecutive showdowns against the Irish. Notre Dame finished the 2016-17 season ranked No. 2 nationally with a 33-4 overall record. ND won the ACC regular season and tournament championships before advancing to the regional final of the NCAA Tournament.

UConn will square off against another former Big East rival on Friday, December 8 in Chicago. DePaul finished the 2016-17 season with a 27-8 overall record and shared the conference regular season crown with a 16-2 mark in the league. The Blue Demons finished the season ranked No. 19/18 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Huskies will then return to the Nutmeg State for a matchup against Oklahoma on Tuesday, December 19 in the Naismith Hall of Fame Women’s Holiday Showcase at Mohegan Sun Arena. The Sooners were 23-10, 13-5 last season, finishing the year ranked No. 23/21 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament Second Round. UConn and OU have played 10 times since 1999, with the Huskies coming out on top on each occasion.

UConn takes on Texas in Austin on Monday, January 15. The Longhorns finished the year ranked 14th nationally and advanced to the Sweet 16.

The penultimate game of the non-conference season is against defending national champion South Carolina on Thursday, February 1 in Columbia, S.C. The Huskies captured their 100th consecutive win against the Gamecocks on February 13 of last season and went on to extend that record streak to 111-straight victories. South Carolina won its first national championship in 2017 and finished the year 33-4 overall.

The final piece of the non-conference schedule is a Monday, February 12 matchup against Louisville. U of L, which finished last season ranked No. 12/13, and the Huskies have not met since the 2014 American Athletic Conference Championship Final that saw UConn improve its record against U of L to 16-1 all-time. Last season, Louisville finished the year with a 29-8 overall record and advanced to the NCAA Regional Semifinal. The series between these two squads has been played on plenty of big stages, including the 2009 and 2013 national championship games.

The new 16-game American schedule format features home-and-home contests against East Carolina, SMU, Temple, Tulane, Tulsa, and USF. UConn will play at UCF and Cincinnati only and will play Houston and Memphis at home only.

The fourth annual American Athletic Conference Tournament will be held on March 3-6 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn.

Eight games will be televised nationally, including four on ESPN.

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