By Ed Morgans @writered21 on July 20, 2014
Oregon had a strong season in 2013-14, finishing 24-10 overall. The Ducks got off to a fast start, but in a season with a similar pattern to that of Ohio State, Oregon struggled as Pac-12 Conference play wore on, finishing 10-8 in the league. The Ducks made it to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament before falling to Wisconsin. The Ducks have multiple big conference games to watch this season, plus a couple decent non-conference matchups.
Oregon heads to Brooklyn for the Legends Classic Thanksgiving week and will match up against two strong teams as the other schools scheduled to appear include Michigan, VCU and Villanova. VCU would present a particularly intriguing matchup for the Ducks, given the Rams' propensity to press and create havoc, while the Ducks love to play up-tempo and try to get to 90 points a game.
The Ducks and Illini met in Portland last year with the Ducks prevailing, 71-64. But that's the only time Oregon has beaten Illnois in the last 35 years, as the Illini are 4-1 overall in the series. The teams meet at the United Center this season, where Illinois traditionally plays a big non-conference opponent every year, and this should be an entertaining matchup.
A good matchup between Pac-12 and SEC schools will take place when Oregon hosts Mississippi prior to the beginning of conference play for both teams. The Ducks will see a Rebels team that will be trying to remake itself with the departure of former top scorer Marshall Henderson. How Mississippi does that will determine if this game is critical to Oregon's RPI, but it's still a solid non-conference matchup for both teams.
Oregon has two teams it will have to get through in order to contend in the Pac-12, and the UCLA Bruins are one of them. The teams meet twice this upcoming season and both are must-see games. The teams split two regular-season games last year, with the road team winning both, including Oregon's overtime win at UCLA on Feb. 27. But just two weeks later, UCLA turned the tables, eliminating the Ducks in the Pac-12 quarterfinals.
As good as UCLA has been the last several years, since the Bruins' dynasty era ended, the standard bearer for Pac-12 dominance has been the Arizona Wildcats; and that doesn't figure to be any different in 2014-15. Oregon and Arizona played two close games last season with the home team winning both. The Ducks have won three of the last four in the series after the Wildcats had dominated, winning six straight.
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