Middle Tennessee will play eight of its first nine women's basketball games at the friendly confines of Murphy Center and have 14 home dates in all during the 2020-21 season.
Lady Raider Head Coach Rick Insell announced a challenging schedule that also includes a twist to the C-USA schedule today.
Due to global pandemic, C-USA has adopted a model that keeps student-athlete health and safety at the forefront. Schools will play two games per visit at four select C-USA campuses, and will host four teams for a two-game series. Teams will also have a home-and-home opportunity with a designated rival opponent.
The new model will have teams play back-to-back games on Friday and Saturday, instead of Thursday and Saturday as originally decided. C-USA also implemented 21 hours in between tipoffs to provide appropriate rest periods.
In addition to reducing the amount of travel, moving to this Friday-Saturday format will allow teams to play and efficiently complete their testing protocol each week.
"We have outstanding leadership at Middle Tennessee with (Director of Athletics) Chris Massaro and (University President) Dr. Sidney McPhee, as well as in the Conference USA office," Insell said. "Our leadership has worked hard to give us a plan and we will follow that plan. It's going to be a different type of a season but it is different for all of us. We are all in the same situation."
The Lady Raiders will face another daunting schedule in 2020-21; however, 14 of their 25 regular-season games will be played at home. The season begins Thanksgiving weekend with a date against national power Louisville, Nov. 25, followed by a visit from SEC foe Vanderbilt, Nov. 29.
"Thanksgiving week will be huge for our basketball program," Insell said. "With no exhibition games this season we are jumping right into it but competitors want to play tough competition and that's what we have at Middle Tennessee. This is one of the many reasons players want to be part of the Lady Raider program, plus I believe our fans deserve to get to see us play some of these teams at Murphy Center."
The non-conference schedule includes home games against Belmont, Tulane, Troy and Lipscomb. The one road non-conference game is at Big 12 foe TCU.
"I believe this is probably our toughest schedule in my (16 seasons) at Middle Tennessee," Insell said. "We will be challenged every night, but I believe this schedule will also help prepare us for a very tough Conference USA schedule."
The Lady Raiders are the preseason favorite to win C-USA. Middle Tennessee's home series are against Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss, Marshall and Old Dominion.
The Lady Raiders will play C-USA road games at FIU, WKU, Charlotte and Louisiana Tech. The only C-USA home-and-home trip will be against travel partner UAB.
"It will be unusual playing a team in back-to-back days with very little time, if any, to adjust and make any changes," Insell said. "Again, all 14 teams face the same challenges. Preparation going into each weekend is always very important but maybe even more so this season with playing back-to-back days with little time in between. Like every other team, we are just excited to play and get to the starting point."