Non-conference breakdown: women’s basketball

The matches to watch before MAC season begins

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The Bulls are looking for big wins this non-conference season when they take on Western New York schools and highly touted programs. Coming off last year's historic Sweet Sixteen appearance and record breaking season, expect women’s basketball to get the buzz around the team going early in November and December.

Niagara Purple Eagles - Nov. 14

The Bulls may start their season on Nov. 11, but its home debut will be Buffalo’s first must-watch game of the season. The Purple Eagles are coming off an underwhelming season and lack the depth that Buffalo has. Expect the Bulls to show out and share the ball to give more reps to talent. If the Bulls show up with multiple shooters early this season, the game could be over early. 

Oregon Ducks - Nov. 18

The Ducks are one of the most talented opponents the Bulls will play this season. Oregon ended last season 33-5 and ranked fifth overall in the nation. Given that the Bulls will be on the road, Buffalo will find itself looking to repeat what it did earlier this year; winning road games in this year's NCAA Tournament against higher ranked teams. The Bulls have done it before and seem ready to continue their success. So does Oregon. The Ducks have been selected to win the PAC-12 Conference this season and have mostly returning players. If Buffalo wins, it will be one of the highlight victories in school history.

South Point Thanksgiving Shootout - Nov. 23, 24

The Bulls are heading to Las Vegas, Nevada following turkey day for this year’s South Point Thanksgiving Shootout. The Bulls went to Daytona Beach, Fl. last year for the San Juan Shootout and left the weekend with 2 wins over big conference teams. The Bulls will have that chance again with the Georgetown Hoyas coming in from the Big East. The Hoyas were a .500 team in both non-conference and conference play and should help build the teams NCAA Tournament resume early. The South Dakota State Jackrabbits will be the Bulls’ other matchup for the weekend. South Dakota comes in off a very impressive 26-7 season last year. Expect the Jackrabbits to be the tougher test on the weekend for Buffalo.

Canisius Golden Griffins - Dec. 4

The Western New York rivalry games continue with the Griffins. The Bulls whooped the Griffins last year, but Canisus should hope that Buffalo is still working things out come December. Much of the Bulls’ season depends on when the team starts synchronizing. Freshmen make up over a third of the team, and non-conference success rests heavily on them being ready for the higher level of play. With Canisius only having 10 wins last season, the Bulls should pick up the win, regardless of if they have any issues.

Dayton Flyers - Dec. 7

If Felisha Legette-Jack and the coaching staff deserve credit for something out of this schedule, its the top tier opponents they have set games up with. Dayton bounced early from the NCAA Tournament this year and finished the season 23-7. The Flyers have a deep roster of veteran players and have the luck of playing Buffalo on Dayton court. The Flyers went 13-1 at home but had several games decided by 10 points or less. 

Stanford Cardinal - Dec. 21

The Bulls will finally return home after over a month away to take on another PAC-12 team with Stanford. The Cardinal was another PAC-12 elite going 14-3 in the conference and making it to the Sweet Sixteen last season. This is the best home game of the non-conference season but will be during winter break. If you can make it to the game, it will be one of the best Bulls games to watch until the Central Michigan Chippewas come for the Mid-American Conference rivalry game.

St. Bonaventure Bonnies - Dec. 23

The Bulls will complete the Western New York rivalry games with this home clash against the Bonnies. Given the Bonnies 8-22 record last season, Buffalo should pickup the easy win just before Christmas day.

Thomas Zafonte is the senior sports editor and can be reached at thomas.zafonte@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @Thomas_Spectrum.