Auburn's Strength of Schedule as of right now is ranked #70 in the nation, which is the 4th toughest in the SEC based on ESPN's RPI rankings. They finished that stretch at 8-5, with a five game winning streak on the back end against some pretty good competition. If the 13 teams Auburn played, I believe only 3-4 did not play in some form of post-season tournament last season.
Auburn's 8-5 record is one of the worst in the SEC through non-conference play, but that strength of schedule above shows that it was a tough sled through that stretch. Auburn had a much better record last season through non-conference play, and then proceeded to win only four more games the rest of the season. This year's results should be much better than that.
The first SEC opponent of the season is Vanderbilt. The Commodores are currently 10th in the SEC Blog Poll Power Rankings done by a collection of SEC sites here on SB Nation. They finished the non-conference schedule (ranked 115 by the site linked above) with a 10-3 record. According to Anchor of Gold, the Commodores have a bit of a turnover problem. That could bode well for an Auburn team that has been pretty good at forcing turnovers.
How to Watch, Stream, Listen
When: 9pm EST / 8pm CDT
Stream: WatchESPN / ESPN3
Listen: Auburn IMG Network.
Players to Watch
6'10" Center Damian Jones is the Commodores leading scorer so far this season. He is averaging 16.6 points/game, with a .566 FG%, and .704% from the line. Jones is also Vanderbilt's leading rebounder, pulling down 7.1 per game, mostly on the defensive side.
K.T. Harrell: KT is one of the top scorers in the SEC this season (though we're only now hitting SEC play), and is averaging 17.9 points/game. He's shooting .459% from the field, and .741% from the line.
Cinmeon Bowers: Bowers leads the SEC in rebounds, with 11.3/game, also mostly on the defensive side. He's pretty much had to be the only major rebounding threat for the Tigers until Trayvon Reed came along.
Antoine Mason: Mason was the leading scorer in all of college basketball last season. He's been out for about half of Auburn's games this season, but when he's played he's been a real difference maker, averaging 15.4 points/game.
Numbers of Interest
Rankings: Auburn / Vanderbilt
RPI: 120 / 82
Pomeroy: 139 / 53
Sagarin: 151 / 58
Auburn on the road is 0-3, 1-1 at neutral sites. Auburn has lost 14 straight SEC road openers.
Vanderbilt at home is 11-2.
For more information on Vanderbilt, check out Anchor of Gold.