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UConn women’s basketball schedule breakdown

A strong non-conference slate puts the Huskies’ home win-streak on the line.

Photos-WBB: Baylor Lady Bears vs UConn Huskies - 11/17/16 Ian Bethune/The UConn Blog

UConn women’s basketball has not lost a game at home since February 18, 2013 — a 70-76 loss to Baylor at the XL Center. However, with a strong non-conference home slate on the schedule for 2019-20, that home win streak is certainly at risk in the coming season. Here’s a breakdown of the Huskies upcoming opponents:

Top Challengers

Three teams have a good shot at handing the Huskies a loss this season.

Baylor (Jan. 9): The reigning national champions head to Hartford in early January, in what will be the first big test for the Huskies this season. The Bears lost standout center Kalani Brown and their starting point guard Chloe Jackson from last year’s championship team. However, they return pre-season All-American Lauren Cox and an elite class of sophomores. Add in graduate transfer Te’a Cooper from South Carolina and Baylor looks to be in good shape to contend for another title.

With Olivia Nelson-Ododa entering the starting lineup and the 6-foot-7 Brown’s departure, the Huskies are in better shape to match-up with the Bears’ size in the paint this season. Still, Cox is arguably the best forward in the NCAA this season and Baylor stands a real chance to hand the Huskies their first true home loss since 2013 early in the new year.

Oregon (Feb. 3): The Ducks are the preseason No. 1 team and the current favorite to win the national title in 2020. They return All-American triple-double machine Sabrina Ionescu, as well as Ruthy Hebard and Satou Sabally — a lineup that could produce three first round picks in next year’s WNBA draft should Sabally declare early.

The Ducks lost just one starter from their 2019 Final Four team and brought in a strong freshman class. Oregon is also still waiting to here on the waiver for Texas transfer Sedona Prince which, if approved, would give them one of the best frontcourts in the country.

at South Carolina (Feb. 10): The Gamecocks boast the top recruiting class in the country, and by the time the Huskies head to Columbia they will have had plenty of time to work out the freshman kinks. Even with a mostly unproven roster, South Carolina is a preseason top 10 team.

The Gamecocks return senior point guard and 2018-19 Nancy Lieberman Award finalist Tyasha Harris. Combine her with an elite group of underclassmen and South Carolina will certainly be able to challenge the Huskies late in the season.

Good Games

The Huskies will likely be heavy favorites heading into these match-ups, but they should still be interesting to watch.

at Seton Hall (Dec. 5): Picked to finish third in the Big East this season, Seton Hall serves as a preview of what the Huskies’ conference slate will look like next year.

Notre Dame (Dec. 8): The Notre Dame rivalry always makes for a fun game, but the Irish won’t pose the challenge they usually do to the Huskies this year. After losing all five starters to last year’s WNBA draft (4 graduating seniors and an early declaration by No. 1 pick Jackie Young), Notre Dame is entering a rebuilding season for 2019-20.

All of the Irish’s returning players averaged under four points per game last season. They retooled with two graduate transfers and a strong freshman class to come in at No. 16 in the preseason poll. This game will present an early opportunity to see how UConn looks against a stronger opponent but don’t expect the thrilling match-up of years past.

at DePaul (Dec. 16): DePaul always puts up a good fight against the Huskies, and as a preseason No. 18 picked to win the Big East this year, this should be a good road game. UConn will be a heavy favorite, but the Blue Demons fast pace of play will challenge the Huskies to step up and take control of the game early on. Like Seton Hall, this one also brings a preview of what future conference play will look like.

Tennessee (Jan. 23): Tennessee was not included in the preseason AP top-25 for the first time since 1976 this season. Regardless, the return of this old UConn rivalry should be fun to watch. The Vols biggest off season acquisition is new head coach (and former player) Kelly Harper, who led Missouri State to the Sweet 16 in a Cinderella run last March.

There’s also some new drama in the rivalry. Evina Westbrook transferred from Tennessee to UConn but the NCAA denied her waiver to play immediately. Geno Auriemma said Tennessee Athletic Director Phillip Fulmer didn’t do as much as he could’ve to help Westbrook, adding a new layer of disdain between the two schools.

USF (Feb. 16, Mar. 2): UConn is expected to close out their stint in the American without a loss but Jose Fernandez’s Bulls always give UConn a decent game. The Huskies should come out on top in both of these games, especially with the graduation of star guard Kitija Laksa. Still, USF is picked second in the preseason conference poll and should be the two best games of the AAC slate.

UCF (Jan. 16, Feb. 22): Again, UConn will be the heavy favorite here. It is worth noting that Central Florida’s roster boasts AAC preseason co-player of the year Kay Kay Wright (alongside Crystal Dangerfield). However, if the Huskies can shut down Wright, the Knights should be no problem.

Everything Else

Cal (Nov. 10), at Vanderbilt (Nov. 13), at Temple (Nov. 17), Virginia (Nov. 19), at Ohio State (Nov. 24), at Dayton (Nov. 26), Oklahoma (Dec. 22), Wichita State (Jan. 2), at SMU (Jan. 5), Houston (Jan. 11, Feb. 29), Memphis (Jan. 14, Feb. 7), Tulsa (Jan. 17), at ECU (Jan. 25), Cincinnati (Jan. 30, Feb. 26), Tulane (Feb. 19)

The Huskies’ final year in the American fills their conference slate with pretty easy wins, outside of the directional Florida games. The remaining non-conference slate does feature a handful of Power 5 teams but all were selected to finish towards the bottom of their leagues in the preseason polls.