NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Head coach Bart Brooks and the Belmont women's basketball team rolled out its 2019-20 schedule on Tuesday. The challenging non-conference slate features a total of eight institutions who competed in postseason tournaments last season.
The Bruins non-conference schedule also highlights matchups with six teams ranked 75th or better in RPI to end last season, as they finish out the year with their traditional 18-game OVC schedule. Belmont returns three starters from the 2018-19 season, which saw the program lift its fourth-consecutive OVC Championship trophy behind a 26-7 (16-2, OVC) record.
Last season, the Bruins joined UConn as the only other team in the nation to win its last four conference championships.
Belmont once again produced one of the toughest non-conference schedules in the country of any program outside of the power conferences for the upcoming 2019-20 season.
"We try to give our players an opportunity to compete against some the best programs in the country with our non-conference games," said Brooks. "I think we definitely fulfilled that objective with this year's schedule."
The schedule opens up with a pair of non-conference tests at home in the Curb Event Center. The Bruins' season-opener features an in-state matchup with Chattanooga on Nov. 6.
Next, Belmont will host the UCF Knights, who finished last season with a 26-7 record and an NCAA Tournament appearance despite falling to UConn in the AAC Championship game.
"We have some great opportunities for our fans to come out to the Curb and watch our team compete early in the season," Brooks said. "We look forward to hosting a couple of talented teams to kick off the year."
The Bruins will begin their five-game non-conference road trip against the Arkansas Razorbacks on Nov. 20, who are fresh off an SEC Tournament title game appearance and NIT bid last year.
Included in the road slate is the Daytona Beach Invitational in Daytona Beach, Fla., where Belmont will face the Virginia Tech Hokies and the Maryland Terrapins at the Ocean Center.
Overall, the Hokies have racked up three-straight 20-win seasons under head coach Kenny Brooks. Meanwhile, the Terrapins claim five NCAA Tournament Final Four appearances, a national championship in the 2005-06 season and most recently a 29-5 record in 2018-19.
"It is a great opportunity for our program to play in the Daytona Beach Invitational against well-coached and talented teams like Virginia Tech and Maryland," said Brooks. "It is awesome preparation to play on consecutive days, which usually only happens during conference tournament play."
Belmont will wrap up its road stretch by travelling to face Toledo in the Buckeye State on Dec. 3, before returning to Nashville for a tilt with the Lipscomb Bison in the Battle of the Boulevard (Dec. 11).
The Bruins finish up their non-conference schedule with a trip to Milwaukee, Wisc. on Dec. 21 to take on the Marquette Golden Eagles. The Golden Eagles ended last season with a 27-8 record and a trip to the NCAA Tournament Round of 32.
Belmont will open up the new year, and conference play, with back-to-back home games against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville (Jan. 2) and Eastern Illinois (Jan. 4). Four of the Bruins first six conference games come at home.
"The OVC is as strong as it has been since I started at Belmont. The teams who were at the bottom of the conference a couple years ago have made great strides and are now competing with the top teams in the conference," said Brooks. " I expect this season to be the most competitive conference race we have seen in several years."
Succeeding a four-game OVC away stretch, Belmont rounds out the regular season with five of its last seven games in Music City.
"Any time you play in a league where your opponents know you inside and out, every stretch of games will have challenges," said Brooks. "Whether we start at home or have a road stretch in the middle of the season, our conference opponents will push our players and staff to improve each week."
The OVC Tournament will be held at the Ford Center in Evansville, Ind. for the third-straight year, running from March 4-7.
Season tickets for the Bruins men's and women's basketball teams are on sale now. Belmont fans can call or text (615) 460-BALL for more ticket information.