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Memphis Adds Two Regional Rivals to Basketball Schedule

Two marquee home games were announced for Memphis basketball’s non-conference schedule Wednesday, as Mississippi State and Ole Miss are coming to FedExForum this year. Both are a part of home and home series, with Memphis set to make the return trips to Starkville and Oxford in the 2025-2026 season. The dates of the games are unknown at this time. 

Memphis and Mississippi St, although being separated by only three hours, have not played a regular season game against each other since the 1984-1985 season, when a Memphis team that eventually went to the Final Four, led by Keith Lee and Andre Turner, traveled to Starkville and dispatched the Bulldogs 68-59.  

The first two years of the Chris Jans era at Mississippi St have been quality, with NCAA tournament appearances every year he has been coach. Jans’ teams, dating back to his time at New Mexico State, are always elite defensively and incredibly physical. If Penny successfully reinstalls the defensive culture that characterized every team he has had except last season, expect this game to be a rock fight. 

Meanwhile, Ole Miss and Memphis have played each other for the last three seasons, with last season’s result being an 80-77 victory for Ole Miss in Oxford.  

Ole Miss became a bubble team last season under first year coach Chris Beard, a massive improvement from where they were during the Kermit Davis era. While Beard’s character can be questioned, after all that is why he is at Ole Miss right now instead of Texas, his reputation as a coach is among the highest in the sport. Expect Ole Miss to be a formidable opponent next year. 

In an era of college basketball where scheduling power conference teams to home and homes is becoming increasingly difficult, and as attendance during the Penny Hardaway era has dwindled the past two years, getting these regional SEC schools to come play at FedExForum is massive.  

Yet again, Hardaway is assembling a challenging non-conference schedule. As of right now, Memphis will be playing Missouri, Ole Miss, and Mississippi St at home, and Virginia, Clemson, UNLV, and San Francisco (neutral) on the road. Also, Memphis is part of the marquee MTE in college basketball, the Maui Invitational, which as always has a loaded field. Every team besides Memphis made the NCAA tournament last year, as the field includes Colorado, Dayton, Michigan St, Auburn, North Carolina, Iowa St, and is headlined by two time defending national champion UConn.  

Once again, due to the weakness of the American Athletic Conference, it is imperative for Memphis to schedule aggressively in the non-conference and perform well against it, and the first part of that equation is more than getting done.  

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