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Breaking down the Tigers biggest non-conference matchups of the 2023-2024 season

An impressive non-conference schedule awaits.
By Francis Carlota | May 29, 2023, 11:59 am | 0 comments

Let’s not sugar-coat this. The AAC lacks in NCAA Tournament résumé building opponents. That’s why a strong non-conference schedule is vital. Coach Penny Hardaway and the Memphis Tigers program know this and have put together one impressive non-conference slate for next season.

The season starts with two exhibitions on October 29 and November 2 against Lane College and Lemoyne-Owen before the November 6 home opener against Jackson State. The Tigers then travel to Columbia, Missouri for an early road test against the Missouri Tigers. After facing Alabama St. at home, the Bahamas in late November don’t sound too bad.

But Memphis can’t let the tropical paradise relax them as Michigan, Texas Tech, Northern Iowa, Stanford, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Villanova make up the rest of the Battle 4 Atlantis field. Win or lose, this tournament is a prelude to a vital stretch of road games. The Tigers will face Ole Miss, VCU, and Texas A&M away from home before four straight games at FedEx Forum against Clemson, Virginia, Vanderbilt, and Austin Peay to close out the non-conference schedule.

There are several eye-catching matchups. But let’s break down a few.

November 10 – @Missouri

As I wrote in my previous article detailing the uncertainty surrounding Memphis basketball, there are more questions than answers right now. While the start of the season will provide Tigers fans some answers, a road test against a quality SEC opponent in Missouri could either ease or rise tensions. The Missouri Tigers were picked 11th out of 14 SEC teams last season. Yet, they finished 4th in the conference and made an NCAA Tournament appearance. Missouri was led by 6’8 forward Kobe Brown, who reminds me a lot of David Roddy. However, Brown’s return depends on how the NBA Draft process goes, and he has yet to announce his final decision. Unlike Brown, Missouri’s two other leading scorers won’t be returning. But Missouri will have talented guards returning and a 7-foot freshman center named Jordan Butler who could punish Memphis down low.

December 2 – @Ole Miss

The last time Memphis traveled to Oxford, the arena DJ played Whoop That Trick to conclude a 63-67 Ole Miss victory. While Coach Hardaway and the Tigers got their revenge the following season, this year’s matchup carries some extra juice. The Rebels have a new Head Coach, former Texas Tech coach Chris Beard, and he’s got an impressive roster for his first season. Centers Jamarion Sharp and Moussa Cisse, guard Austin Nunez, and forward Brandon Murray make up a talented group of transfers who will team up with guard Matthew Murrell. Memphis will hope to silence the Ole Miss faithful on December 2.

December 19 – Virginia

The Virginia Cavaliers are coming off of a heart-breaking upset to Furman in the NCAA Tournament. However, they finished 1st in the ACC and were among the country’s elite. Coach Tony Bennett is one of the best defensive coaches in all of college basketball. He always gets the most out of his players and gets his roster to buy into his teachings. Though Virginia lost its leading shot blocker to the transfer portal and has lost seven other scholarship players from this past season’s roster, the Cavaliers return enough talent on both sides of the ball to give teams trouble.

November 23 – November 26 – Battle 4 Atlantis

The Battle 4 Atlantis field is loaded. Here’s the full list of teams one more time: Michigan, Texas Tech, Northern Iowa, Stanford, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Villanova. We don’t know who Memphis will face first. But no matchup will be easy. If the Tigers can gather some confidence and get quality wins, that would set them up perfectly for the difficult stretch of road games that follow.

Memphis must take advantage of a strong non-conference schedule and set itself up well for AAC play.


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