Kermit Davis’ Middle Tennessee squad has a tough act to follow up on in 2012-13, as they’re coming off of a 27-win campaign and a Sun Belt regular season title.
And with a non-conference schedule that features eight teams that took part in postseason play last year, reaching those heights while also completing the mission of reaching the Big Dance won’t be easy.
“I’d have to put this schedule up as one of the toughest in all of college basketball this year,” Davis said in a statement released by the school. “Eight of the 11 non-conference opponents went to the postseason last year. We have three SEC teams and two Conference USA teams.
“We’re always trying to do what the selection committee would like you to do in your non-conference schedule and then have an appealing home schedule for our fans. I think we’ve definitely done both.”
Included on the schedule are match-ups against Florida (November 18 in Gainesville) and Vanderbilt (December 21 at Bridgestone Arena).
Also, the Blue Raiders will visit a pair of schools that reached the NCAA tournament last season in Akron (December 2) and Belmont (December 13).
Middle Tennessee has to replace just two seniors from last season’s team, but one of those departures is a big one in leading scorer and rebounder LaRon Dendy.
But guard Marcos Knight and forward J.T. Sulton lead 11 returnees from a team that entered the Sun Belt tournament as the prohibitive favorite to win the league’s automatic bid.
Regardless of how the schedule may shape up, the fact that the Blue Raiders fell short of that goal last season should be more than enough motivation in off-season workouts.