Defending Conference USA Champions Middle Tennessee will face a challenging non-conference slate and play 18 league games, as announced by head coach Rick Insell and Director of Athletics Chris Massaro on Wednesday.
The Blue Raiders are coming off an impressive 29-5 season, which saw MT claim the school's first C-USA regular season and tournament titles. Middle Tennessee made a school-record sixth straight NCAA Tournament appearance and the 17th overall in school history.
This year's schedule features three NCAA Tournament teams and six WNIT participants in 2014. It also includes several marquee non-conference home games inside the Murphy Center.
"This is one of the toughest schedules we've put together since I've been here," noted Insell. "We open up the season at Arizona State and return home to play Miami and Arkansas. Then we hit the road again at Ole Miss, all in an eight day period. We lost six seniors. Our heart of our team is freshmen and sophomores. I think it's going to depend on leadership. The way we have our schedule designed, we are going to have to grow up quick."
MT opens the year with a pair of exhibition contests against Martin Methodist (Nov. 6) and UAH (Nov. 10). For the first time since 2007, the Raiders open up on an opponent's home floor when MT takes on Arizona State on Friday, Nov. 14. The Sun Devils reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament last year.
The Blue Raiders welcome the Miami Hurricanes to the Murphy Center for the first time in the team's home opener on Monday, Nov. 17. The Arkansas Razorbacks, now coached by Jimmy Dykes, visit Murfreesboro on Nov. 20.
On Nov. 23, Coach Insell squares off against his son Matt Insell for the first time in the collegiate ranks when the Blue Raiders visit Ole Miss in Oxford. MT returns back for a pair of games against Clemson (Dec. 3) and Xavier (Dec. 7) before playing six of the next seven games on the road.
The Raiders and Kentucky meet for the seventh straight year on Dec. 12, while MT and South Dakota State play for a sixth consecutive time. UCF visits the Murphy Center to break up the road trip on Dec. 20. Middle Tennessee's final non-conference game takes place on Dec. 28 at Tennessee Tech.
"We don't play money games," Insell said. "We want our opponents to come back here and reward our fan base with high-quality women's basketball. I think we have built our fan base because of that. We want our fans to see women's basketball played on the highest level right here in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. We take a lot of pride in that."
MT enters its second year of C-USA play with three consecutive road games. MT opens league play at UAB (Jan. 4) before a weekend trip in the Sunshine State against FIU (Jan. 8) and Florida Atlantic (Feb. 10). A rematch of the 2014 Conference USA Championship game will take place when Southern Miss plays MT inside the Murphy Center on Jan. 15. Two days later, historic women's basketball power Louisiana Tech visits the Blue Raiders.
Middle Tennessee closes out January with road games at Old Dominion (Jan. 22) and Charlotte (Jan. 24) and home contests against UTSA (Jan. 29) and UTEP (Jan. 31). MT wraps up its series with Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech on Feb. 5 and Feb. 7. The Raiders then host Rice (Feb. 12) and North Texas (Feb. 14) for the only regular season matchups.
The Raiders' final road weekend starts on Feb. 19 against Marshall and concludes with archrival WKU on Feb. 21. MT closes out the final three league games at home against UAB (Feb. 28), FIU (March 5) and Florida Atlantic (March 7).
The 2015 Conference USA Championship is set to take place in Birmingham, Ala., on March 11-14. Times for all games will be announced at a later date.