Conference USA has released the 2019-20 composite men's basketball schedule, making official Middle Tennessee's road to the C-USA Championship at the Ford Center in Frisco, Texas.
"We're really looking forward to another slate of challenging Conference USA games in 2020," Head Coach Nick McDevitt said. "I thought our team came on strong late in the 2019 season, and with the combination of experienced returners and talented newcomers we hope to continue that trajectory."
The Blue Raiders kick things off with a road trip to defending regular season and tournament champion Old Dominion (Jan. 2) followed by Charlotte (Jan. 4) just after New Year's Day. MT dropped a 55-50 decision at the hands of the Monarchs last season, but the Blue Raiders got the upper hand against Charlotte in both 2019 meetings.
Middle will then welcome a pair of rivals to the Murphy Center for highly anticipated games the following week, hosting Marshall (Jan. 9) and WKU (Jan. 11). The last time MT hosted the Herd and Hilltoppers, 10,000-plus fans packed the Glass House to cheer on the nationally-ranked Raiders in March of 2018.
Florida Atlantic and FIU opened up C-USA play for MT last season in Murfreesboro, with both road teams coming away with the victory. This year, the Blue Raiders hope to get back in the win column against their Florida foes when they travel to the Owls (Jan. 16) and Panthers (Jan. 18).
The Raiders return to the 'Boro and look to send LA Tech (Jan. 23) and Southern Miss (Jan. 25) home empty handed in a pair of games at the Murphy Center. The Raiders will then end January and begin February on the road at UTEP (Jan. 30) and UTSA (Feb. 1).
MT was no stranger to the Miners last season, as it won all three regular season matchups. Nick McDevitt's first C-USA win came last season at home against then-first place UTSA in an 89-86 thriller.
In their first game back from the Texas road swing, MT will play host to another pair of Texas teams beginning with North Texas (Jan. 6). After visiting Houston twice last season, the Blue Raiders will host Rice (Feb. 8) for the first time in the McDevitt era.
The final week before C-USA bonus play will feature a pair of showdowns in a brewing rivalry against UAB. MT will travel to Birmingham (Feb. 12) before hosting the Blazers at Murphy Center (Feb. 15). Last season, Donovan Sims took center stage in both games against the Blazers. The Murfreesboro native drained the game-clinching step-back three-pointer in the first game before knocking down the game-winning free throws three days later in game two.
Following the two games against UAB, Conference USA has allowed for five potential dates for C-USA bonus play: Feb. 22, Feb. 27, March 1, March 4 and March 7. The 14 member teams will be divided into three groups based on conference standings: 1-5, 6-10 and 11-14.
Each team will then play only the other teams from within their group. The bonus play group status locks in each member team's C-USA Championship seeding possibilities.
The league's top 12 teams will then compete in the C-USA Championship (March 11-14). For the third consecutive year, Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas, will host the C-USA Basketball Championships.
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