So, we’re not just a football school anymore, y’all!
Basketball school status: ACHIEVED.
Okay, that’s jumping the gun. But at this point, Auburn basketball’s in as good of a position as it’s been in since the turn of the millennium.
The Tigers beat Middle Tennessee (RPI 13) last night in Birmingham in a game that wasn’t quite as close as the final six-point margin made it seem. With the win, the Tigers improved to 9-1 on the year, which is their best start since 1999.
Way back in 1999, Auburn started the year 14-1 before starting to fall apart and losing seven of the final twelve games of the season once Y2K hit. This came one season after the 1998-99 version of Cliff Ellis’ bunch won the SEC regular season title and finished 29-4 overall. The 1999-2000 version included many of the same players from the previous season, with Chris Porter, Scott Pohlman, Doc Robinson, Mamadou N’Diaye, and a freshman Marquis Daniels, but didn’t end up hitting the same heights as the previous year.
I know the comparison isn’t founded at all, but let’s premonitionize for a moment. Let’s say we get Austin Wiley and Danjel Purifoy back in the lineup, with a team that’s been building depth all season long. It could be a nice mixture. Wiley’s post presence alone would make Auburn a tough out for anyone.
The rest of the non-conference slate isn’t totally easy, but getting through Middle Tennessee shows that Auburn’s at least got the stuff to beat Murray State, UConn, and Cornell. The Racers lost to MTSU and haven’t played anyone with any strength all year long, the Huskies have lost to every team with a pulse that they’ve played, and Cornell’s 4-4 with slim wins over the fearsome Binghamton, Toledo, Duquesne, and Longwood teams. Auburn can finish the non-conference at 12-1, and would likely be ranked at that point (or on the outskirts at the very least).
The SEC slate doesn’t look too terrible to begin either after the first two bouts. Tennessee and Arkansas are ranked in the top ten of the RPI rankings, but after that it’s the Mississippis and some other teams that have struggled as of late. If Auburn can split the Tennessee/Arkansas games, then it’ll bode really well for the Tigers.
Not just a football school anymore, am I right??
War Eagle! Make sure to come pack out Auburn Arena on Tuesday night for Murray State.