Baylor, Notre Dame, Mississippi State highlight USF women’s non-league slate

The Bulls will play six teams who made the 2019 NCAA tourney before January.
USF guard Enna Pehadzic (0) drives to the basket past UCF forward Tolulope Omokore (25) during a game at the Yuengling Center on Jan. 8. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
USF guard Enna Pehadzic (0) drives to the basket past UCF forward Tolulope Omokore (25) during a game at the Yuengling Center on Jan. 8. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Published June 14

Pay little mind to the dreamy stopping points ― including Cancun and Las Vegas ― on the USF women’s 2019-20 non-conference schedule.

This slate is anything but a vacation.

Having replenished their roster with more European talent, the Bulls will face three of last season’s No. 1 NCAA Tournament seeds ― including national champ Baylor ― in arguably the most daunting non-league slate of Jose Fernandez’s 20 seasons.

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The entire 14-game non-league schedule can be seen here. In all, the Bulls will play six NCAA tourney teams from last season before entering American Athletic Conference play, which will feature two ― and perhaps three ― contests against Connecticut. The AAC schedule will be released later this summer.

"We recruit kids here and we tell 'em we're gonna play at the highest level," Fernandez said Friday. "I'm doing them a disservice if we didn't go out and give those guys an opportunity to play those types of teams."

The first of the NCAA tourney qualifiers on tap is Texas, which comes to the Yuengling Center on Nov. 8, three days after the Bulls open the season at home against Jacksonville.

They travel to Waco to face Baylor on Nov. 19 in the first of a two-game home-and-home agreement between the schools.

Nine days later, they open play in the Cancun Challenge, where they face three NCAA qualifiers ― South Dakota State, Florida Gulf Coast and ’19 national runner-up Notre Dame ― in as many days.

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They play ’19 NCAA top seed Mississippi State in the Duel in the Desert tournament in Vegas on Dec. 19, then face either Virginia or host UNLV two days later.

“We could easily buy seven or eight home games,” said Fernandez, whose 2019-20 roster features no fewer than 10 European-born players.

“We play five games every year in two big tournaments; we’ve done that year-in and year-out. ... Half our non-conference schedule is giving us an opportunity to get some big RPI wins.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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