MURFREESBORO - The Middle Tennessee women's basketball team, ranked in the preseason Top 25 by Lindy's and Athlon Sports magazines, has unveiled its 2009-10 schedule, featuring 13 home regular-season games inside the Murphy Center. The slate features seven schools that reached the NCAA Tournament last March, including the first-four games, and two others who participated in the Postseason WNIT.
"We are excited about our schedule," head coach Rick Insell said. "It is a great opportunity for this program playing the likes early of LSU, Tennessee, Xavier, Louisville and South Dakota State. It is a chance for our young ladies to move our program into the next level, something we have been talking about the last four years. It is a schedule on the national platform with these teams. It will help us in recruiting, but we know we also have to go in and take care of business."
A pair of exhibition games open the schedule, pitting Middle Tennessee against Carson-Newman (Nov. 2) and Lincoln Memorial (Nov. 9), before the Blue Raiders begin the regular season with a 2 p.m. Nov. 15 home contest against UCF in just the second-ever meeting with the Golden Knights. UCF is coming off an NCAA Tournament first-round contest in which it played North Carolina, only to lose by five points. The Golden Knights, with four starters returning, will mark the first of four-straight NCAA Tournament opponents to open the campaign for Middle Tennessee.
The Lady Raiders then hit the road for a pair, including a return trip to Baton Rouge, La., to face LSU (Nov. 18). Middle Tennessee has won the last two match-ups against the Tigers, including a thrilling 79-75 triumph last season at the Maravich Center. The other road contest in the swing is at in-state foe Austin Peay (Nov. 21), a school which returns much of its nucleus from last season's NCAA Tournament squad.
Middle Tennessee will play one more game before the Thanksgiving holiday, welcoming the Tennessee Lady Vols to the Murphy Center Nov. 25 for the first time in nearly 30 years to the day. The last time Tennessee visited Murfreesboro was Nov. 26, 1979.
A home game against Tennessee Tech (Nov. 28) precedes three-straight road contests against NCAA Tournament participants, including trips to Cincinnati, Ohio, to face Xavier (Dec. 3), Louisville, Ky., to battle national runner-up Louisville (Dec. 9) and Brookings, S.D., to square off against South Dakota State (Dec. 13).
The 2009 calendar year closes with three more games, two of which will be played inside the Murphy Center. The Blue Raiders tip-off Sun Belt action Dec. 20 against rival Western Kentucky before facing another school from the Bluegrass State, WNIT participant Kentucky, Dec. 28, also at home. The 2009 slate closes with a trip to league foe New Orleans Dec. 30.
Louisiana comes to town Jan. 3 to open the 2010 portion of the schedule before Middle Tennessee heads to the home state of the Sun Belt Tournament, Arkansas, for a pair of games against Arkansas State (Jan. 6) and UALR (Jan. 9). UALR was also competed in the Postseason WNIT last year.
The Blue Raiders then return home to face the league's two Florida institutions, FIU (Jan. 13) and Florida Atlantic (Jan. 16), before hitting the road again for contests at ULM (Jan. 20) and Western Kentucky (Jan. 24).
The last extended homestand of the season is next on the docket, as New Orleans (Jan. 27), North Texas (Jan. 30) and Troy (Feb. 3) all pay visits to the Murphy Center. The next four games then alternate between home and away, string with a road trip to South Alabama (Feb. 6), home against Denver (Feb. 10), at Troy (Feb. 17) and the home regular-season finale against South Alabama (Feb. 21).
A trip to Florida will close the regular season, beginning Feb. 24 at FIU and ending Feb. 27 at Florida Atlantic.
The Sun Belt Tournament returns to Hot Springs, Ark., for the second of a three-year run. The event, which will feature all 13 schools at one location, begins March 6 with the championship slated for March 9.
The NCAA Tournament opens play March 20 with the Final Four set for April 4 and 6 in San Antonio, Texas.
The defending Sun Belt champion Blue Raiders welcome 10 letterwinners from last year's 28-6 squad back in addition to five newcomers, all hailing from the state of Tennessee. The team will officially begin practice at 7 p.m. Oct. 16 inside the Murphy Center. The practice is open to the public.
2009-10 Middle Tennessee Women's Basketball Schedule
Date Opponent Time
Nov. 2 Carson-Newman (exh.) 7 p.m.
Nov. 9 Lincoln Memorial (exh.) 6 p.m.
Nov. 15 UCF 2 p.m.
Nov. 18 at LSU 7 p.m.
Nov. 21 at Austin Peay 7 p.m.
Nov. 25 Tennessee 7 p.m.
Nov. 28 Tennessee Tech TBA
Dec. 3 at Xavier 6 p.m.
Dec. 9 at Louisville 6 p.m.
Dec. 13 at South Dakota State Noon
Dec. 20 Western Kentucky* 2 p.m.
Dec. 28 Kentucky 7 p.m.
Dec. 30 at New Orleans* 7 p.m.
Jan. 3 Louisiana* 2 p.m.
Jan. 6 at Arkansas State* 7 p.m.
Jan. 9 at UALR* 4:30 p.m.
Jan. 13 FIU* 7 p.m.
Jan. 16 Florida Atlantic* 2 p.m.
Jan. 20 at ULM* TBA
Jan. 24 at Western Kentucky* 2 p.m.
Jan. 27 New Orleans* 7 p.m.
Jan. 30 North Texas* 2 p.m.
Feb. 3 Troy* 7 p.m.
Feb. 6 at South Alabama* 5:05 p.m.
Feb. 10 Denver* 7 p.m.
Feb. 17 at Troy* 7 p.m.
Feb. 21 South Alabama* 2 p.m.
Feb. 24 at FIU* 6 p.m.
Feb. 27 at Florida Atlantic* 4 p.m.
March 6-9 Sun Belt Tournament TBA (Hot Springs, Ark.)
March 20-23 NCAA 1st/2nd Rounds TBA
March 27-30 NCAA Sweet 16/Elite 8 TBA
April 4 & 6 NCAA Final Four (San Antonio, Texas)
* - Sun Belt Conference game
All times Central and subject to change