Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl like to schedule tough non-conference games for his teams. That's been very evident just from noticing that this will be the 9th of 10 teams faced so far this season who made it to some form of post-season tournament last year.
Xavier brings a tough team in that has already defeated two SEC foes. The Tigers will have their hands full.
Fortunately, the Tigers are playing much better now than they were even two games ago. This will be Antoine Mason's third game back from injury. Trayvon Reed now has a full week of practice and two games in with his new teammates. And Auburn is playing around with Reed at Center and Cinmeon Bowers at power forward to get both big men on the court at the same time.
This is still a team that is very much a work in progress. They're going to have some bumpy spots, and good teams are going to be able to exploit the weaknesses. Today's game is likely going to be very tough. I do believe the Tigers have a chance to win this one, but it's going to take one of the best efforts the team has put in all season.
Step away from those bowl games, folks. I know it's the last football of the season, but the Auburn basketball team needs - and deserves - your attention and your support.