For most Division I teams, a game against a Division II team is almost certainly categorized as an exhibition: a chance to tune up their game and put on a show for home fans. But for No. 3 Oregon, the first game of their 2018-19 season is a little different.
Sure, it’s still against a Division II program, the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks, and it’ll be an exhibition game for the home team. But tonight, the home team is Alaska-Fairbanks, and for Oregon junior forward Ruthy Hebard, this particular matchup — one that counts toward Oregon’s record — means getting to play in her hometown for the first time since high school.
”I can’t wait to show people who I get to surround myself with now in college,” Hebard told GoDucks.com.
The stands will likely be packed with Hebard fans, but the opposing bench has something of one as well: Alaska-Fairbanks assistant coach Jessie Craig was Hebard’s high school coach.
While this game is an “exhibition” for Oregon in everything but its official name, they’ll still want to make sure every part of their game is in full working order because, upon their return to Eugene, they’ll have to face the 2016 national runner-up and preseason No. 18, Syracuse. With a tough preseason schedule that also includes the 2017 and 2018 national runner-up, No. 6 Mississippi State, down the line, the Syracuse game should be a fine litmus test for the Ducks’ future success against top-tier opponents.
Ducks in action
No. 3 Oregon Ducks at Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks
When: Tuesday, Nov. 6, at 11 p.m. ET
Where: Patty Center, Fairbanks, AK
How to watch: UAF live stream
Notes: Although Hebard is the well-deserved star of the show, this game could also be one to watch for Oregon junior guard Sabrina Ionescu, assuming the “exhibition” style doesn’t restrict her playing time. Ionescu is currently at 10 career triple-doubles, a women’s Division I record that she should add to this season.
No. 3 Oregon Ducks vs. No. 18 Syracuse Orange
When: Saturday, Nov. 10, at 5 p.m. ET
Where: Matthew Knight Arena, Eugene, OR
How to watch: Oregon live stream
Notes: The Ducks have a young core, returning four starters from last season’s Elite Eight team. But the Orange return all five of last season’s starters and boast two five-star recruits in Emily Engstler and Kadiatou Sissoko.
Elsewhere in the Pac-12
- In this week’s other all-ranked-teams matchup, No. 23 Arizona State hosts No. 4 Baylor on Sunday, Nov. 11 (ESPN2). But first, the Sun Devils host Incarnate Word tonight (ASU live stream).
- No. 7 Stanford hosts UC Davis on Wednesday, Nov. 7 and Idaho on Sunday, Nov. 11 (both games on Stanford live stream).
- No. 8 Oregon State hosts Cal Poly on Friday, Nov. 9.
- No. 24 California hosts Houston tonight (Cal live stream) and visits Penn State on Sunday, Nov. 11 (BTN Plus).