Missouri guard Amber Smith goes up for a jump shot

Missouri guard Amber Smith, right, goes up for a jump shot while Iowa forward Megan Gustafson defends on in March 2019 at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Robin Pingeton isn’t giving herself any cupcakes in her 10th year at the helm of the Missouri women’s basketball program.

Her Tigers will take on 13 nonconference opponents in the 2019-20 season, per a Wednesday release from the team. The slate features two home exhibition games, eight rematches of opponents from last season, and a Thanksgiving Break trip to a tournament in Cancun, Mexico.

Many of the Tigers’ opponents won’t be pushovers. Four teams – South Dakota, Missouri State, Princeton, and North Carolina – made the NCAA Tournament last season. Five won more than 20 games and finished in the top 80 in RPI. Seven of the 13 teams qualified for postseason play.

After two late October exhibition games at Mizzou Arena against Truman State and Fontebonne, the Tigers will begin their regular season in Columbia on Nov. 5 against Western Illinois. The Tigers beat the Leathernecks 89-64 on the road in their season opener last year, thanks largely to the first double-double of the season for now-senior guard Amber Smith.

After a game against former Big 12 conference rival Nebraska and Northern Iowa, Missouri will be looking for some payback in its first road game of the season. The Tigers’ Nov. 16 matchup with Green Bay will be their chance to redeem themselves after a frustrating 56-49 loss against the Phoenix a season ago. Green Bay is certainly an above-average mid-major program – it made the WNIT last season and the NCAA Tournament a year before that – but Missouri’s inability to beat them at home was one of the primary reasons the team earned just a seven seed in the NCAA Tournament in March.

Following the Green Bay game, Missouri will travel to South Dakota to take on the Coyotes. If Green Bay is the Tigers’ first significant test, South Dakota is a midterm final. The Coyotes were an eight seed in the Big Dance last season and are returning two of their top three scorers this year. A road win this season would put the Tigers in good position with the committee come March.

After their mid-major trip, the Tigers will take on SIU Edwardsville at Mizzou Arena before traveling again to the Cancun Challenge. Missouri is guaranteed two games in the Thanksgiving tournament: one Nov. 28 against New Mexico, and the other Nov. 29 against UNC. The Tigers were last in Cancun in 2012, when they went 1-2.

Missouri’s December schedule will have far more of a local flavor. The team will host St. Louis Dec. 5 and travel to UMKC on Dec. 8 before taking a week break for exams. They’ll take on in-state rival Missouri State in Springfield on Dec. 15 before heading back to Columbia for their final two nonconference games: a Dec. 18 tilt against Princeton, and a Dec. 20 Braggin’ Rights battle against Illinois.

  • Fall 2018 sports beat writer. I am a junior studying sports journalism.

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