It was ultimately Oregon’s performance in Pac-12 play that kept it from making the NCAA tournament this past season, the Ducks posting a 10-8 record in a weak league where the second-place team also didn’t get an invite.
But had the Ducks played a little better against nonconference competition—and those opponents had been a little more high-profile—things could have been different.
Oregon coach Dana Altman understands this, and plans for the pre-conference portion of the 2018-19 schedule to be far tougher than the 2017-18 that was ranked as the 200th-most difficult among 351 Division I schools.
“Because of our incoming freshmen, there is a lot more interest from TV people and neutral site games,” Altman said, per 247Sports’ Erik Skopil. he explained. “We’re trying to sift through all of that and see what works.”
Oregon currently has the No. 2 recruiting class in the country for 2018, a four-man haul in which every player is ranked in the top 60. The Ducks aren’t done, with former Arizona commit Brandon Williams set to visit next weekend, and those prospects will figure to make Oregon an enticing TV product.
“We will have a little bit more national schedule just because we have a few guys, but probably just as important, people want to see our freshmen,” Altman said.
The only certain part of Oregon’s nonconference schedule, at least from a marquee standpoint, is its inclusion in the 2K Classic. The Ducks will play two home games in November—most likely against Eastern Washington and either Green Bay or Missouri-Kansas City—before facing two teams from the trio of Connecticut, Iowa and Syracuse on Nov. 15-16 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Oregon played three non-league games against power-conference teams last year, all at the PK80 tournament in Portland. Of its other 10 nonconference tilts, nine were at home and only one (Texas Southern) came against a future NCAA tournament team.