The Missouri State men’s basketball team began the season last Wednesday with an exhibition game against Washington University at JQH Arena.
And now they dive into a tough, exciting nonconference schedule.
“We have a very challenging schedule this year,” head coach Dana Ford said.
A matchup at Xavier University kickstarts a five-game road series on Nov. 15. The Musketeers have seen 28 NCAA Tournaments, 17 conference titles and seven Sweet 16 appearances.
In the last 13 years, Xavier has received a bid to the tournament 11 times while collecting 17 wins.
Then the Bears head to South Carolina for the Charleston Classic Nov. 21-24. First, they’ll take on the University of Miami, who has seen NCAA tournament play 10 times with three Sweet 16 appearances. The Hurricanes have also taken on the National Invitation Tournament 11 times.
Depending on pool play, Missouri State could have the chance to battle against the University of Florida.
The Gators have 22 NCAA tournament appearances under their belt accompanied by nine Elite Eight matchups and two national championships from 2006 and 2007.
The Bears will close out their road swing at Louisiana State. The Tigers have earned 22 NCAA bids and 10 trips to the Sweet 16. LSU has won 12 regular-season Southeastern Conference titles.
“We have the opportunity to play against some of the best teams in the country this year,” Ford said in a release. “It’s very humbling to have that opportunity and to continue to represent our university and our conference on the national stage.”
Missouri State will then host Murray State, Mississippi Valley State and Arkansas State at JQH.
Murray State has seen 17 trips to the NCAA tournament and eight NIT bids.
Ford will take the Bears back on the road to Virginia Commonwealth University, who has 17 NCAA tournament appearances and 10 regular-season conference titles under their belt and then to Oral Roberts, who has earned five NCAA tournament trips, seven regular-season conference titles and eight invites to the NIT.
Other nonconference home games include Little Rock, Alabama State and Cleveland State.
“We are very honored to have some great basketball programs coming to JQH Arena this year,” Ford said in the release.
Missouri State, in comparison, has been to the NCAA tournament six times, the most recent being 1999, with a 3-6 tournament record. The Bears have a 10-9 record in their nine trips to the NIT, 2011 being the most recent.
The last time the Bears were regular-season Missouri Valley Conference champions was in 2011, and they haven’t won the MVC tournament since 1992.
“We’ve got a little bit more direction of where we’re going and how we’re going about it,” Ford said. “Our goal is to win our conference tournament and hopefully get over this NCAA tournament drought.”