Middle Tennessee releases loaded schedule

Nine 2006 postseason teams included on slate

July 17, 2006 · MT Media Relations
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - When Kermit Davis was hired as Middle Tennessee's head men's basketball coach in April, 2002, he promised challenging schedules that would include bringing back local rivals and putting the Blue Raiders to the test against top-notch competition.

The 2006-07 men's basketball schedule, officially released today by the Middle Tennessee athletics department, is filled with such challenges and will provide the Blue Raiders their most daunting tests of the Davis era.

Nine opponents on the Middle Tennessee schedule participated in postseason play in 2005-06 with eight of them playing in the NCAA Tournament and another competing in the NIT.

Most impressive is the state-wide appeal the upcoming schedule brings with Middle Tennessee facing seven in-state opponents including regular-season contests against Tennessee, Memphis, Belmont, Tennessee State, Austin Peay, and Cumberland, as well as an exhibition contest against Martin Methodist.

It's a very challenging schedule but it's a schedule we put together to test our young men and help prepare them for the Sun Belt Conference run, as well as the postseason, and this does that," Davis said. "One thing we wanted to do in our scheduling was to play as many local rivals as we could, in addition to as many in-state opponents as possible, so we are proud of getting that done because we believe that's important for college basketball in our state, as well as for our fans.

There's no question we will have a Top 20 non-conference schedule. We could play as many as nine postseason teams (from last season). It's a challenging schedule for our players but it's one I believe will help our team down the stretch and also is very appealing to our fans."

In addition to the grueling non-conference slate, Middle Tennessee will play 18 Sun Belt Conference games, as opposed to 14 in 2005-06, due to the addition of Louisiana-Monroe and Florida Atlantic as full-time league members. Sun Belt Conference play begins when the Blue Raiders play host to Louisiana-Monroe, Dec. 17 at 3:30 p.m.

Having more conference games will make for more competitive (league) races and more chances for our fans to see the teams in our league," Davis said. "I think that's one of the most important things because we are getting more quality home games for our fans."

Middle Tennessee will also play in one of the toughest pre-conference tournaments nationally when it joins a loaded field for the Paradise Jam Tournament in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, Nov. 17-20. The field includes Villanova, Alabama, Iowa, Xavier, Toledo, Charleston and Virginia Commonwealth. Each team is guaranteed three games and the tournament pairings will be released in the immediate future.

The Blue Raiders open the season at home in an exhibition game against York (Canada) University, Nov. 3, before playing the official season opener at Tennessee, Nov. 10. It marks the first time Middle Tennessee and Tennessee have met on the hardwood since Jan. 21, 2002, and it is part of a four-year deal that will see the Vols play the Blue Raiders one in Murfreesboro, once in Nashville and twice in Knoxville.

SCHEDULE NOTES: Middle Tennessee has seven in-state opponents on its schedule, the most since the 1999-00 season when the Blue Raiders were still competing in the Ohio Valley Conference ... The Blue Raiders and Volunteers meet on the basketball court for the first time since Jan. 21, 2002 when the two teams played in Knoxville ... Middle Tennessee faces Memphis in back-to-back years for the first time since 1983-85 seasons ... Nine potential opponents played in the postseason last season with eight participating in the NCAA Tournament and one in the NIT. Exact opponents for the Paradise Jam will be determined at a future date ... The field for the Paradise Jam Tournament includes four NCAA Tournament teams from last season (Villanova, Alabama, Iowa and Xavier) ... With the addition of Louisiana-Monroe and Florida Atlantic as full-time league members, Middle Tennessee plays 18 Sun Belt games in 2006-07. League members played 14 games last season.

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