The Lady Raider roster will include seven newcomers, including five freshmen, in 2021-22 but that didn't stop Head Coach Rick Insell from putting together another challenging non-conference schedule for the upcoming season.
Five of the 11 non-conference foes on the Lady Raider schedule were in the NCAA Tournament last season. The Conference-USA schedule was released earlier this summer.
"There is no backing down at Middle Tennessee," Insell said. "We want our young ladies to be tested and they want to be tested. These are games that will help prepare us for a very tough Conference USA schedule, as well as the NCAA Tournament. It's the type of schedule that can earn you an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament in the event you don't win the conference tournament. Our young ladies will be up to the challenge."
The Lady Raiders open the season at home against American Athletic Conference foe East Carolina, Nov. 9, before hitting the road to face VCU - a NCAA Tournament team in March.
Middle Tennessee will return home to face SEC foe Vanderbilt, Nov. 15, before a tough stretch that includes five of six games on the road.
The Lady Raiders renew their longstanding rivalry with Tennessee Tech, Nov. 22. It will mark the 82nd meeting between the teams as Division I foes.
Following the short trip to Cookeville, Middle Tennessee will travel to Daytona Beach, where it will face Illinois and Marquette in the Daytona Beach Thanksgiving Tournament, Nov. 26 and 27, respectively.
The game against Marquette begins a stretch of four games in six outings against teams that were in the NCAA Tournament last season. The other NCAA Tournament entrants include a home game against Mercer (Dec. 3) and road games against Troy (Dec. 11) and Belmont (Dec. 19).
The Lady Raiders also have non-conference contests at Lipscomb (Dec. 5) and at home against Southern Illinois (Dec. 17).
"I'm very excited about the upcoming season, our team and this schedule," Insell said. "What I am most excited about is having our fans back in the Murphy Center. They give us a tremendous homecourt advantage. We missed them last season. We have one of the most loyal fan bases in Division I women's college basketball, and we can't wait to run up that ramp and see our arena full again."
Middle Tennessee also has two exhibition dates on the slate - vs. Lane College (Oct. 29) and UT Southern, formerly Martin Methodist (Nov. 4)