Sadly, we’ve reached a dead period of sorts for Auburn Athletics as we anxiously await for football season to start. Now that we know who will be playing basketball in Auburn next year and with Bruce Pearl (Finally!) getting a contract extension, the majority of the upcoming Auburn basketball news will have to do with next year’s non-conference schedule. While we have a few confirmed opponents, a majority of Auburn’s non-conference schedule remains a mystery.
While I’ve touched on this in previous articles, here’s a reminder of what Auburn has for sure so far.
- November 19th, 20th, 21st - Maui Invitational
Auburn will play 3 of the following: Duke, Gonzaga, Arizona, Xavier, Illinois, San Diego State, Iowa State.
Personally, Duke is at the top of my list of teams to play. Duke will reload with some incredible freshmen as 3 of the top 4 incoming freshmen will be taking their talents to Durham this season. Tre Jones vs. Jared Harper, RJ Barrett vs. Bryce Brown, Austin Wiley vs. Zion Williamson? If these matchups don’t get you fired up, I don’t know what to tell you. My best guess is Auburn plays either Iowa State or San Diego State in the first game, but that’s just my best guess.
The other team I really hope Auburn gets to play in Maui is Gonzaga. Like Duke, they look to easily be a Top 10 preseason team and would be a great test for Auburn. Gonzaga is also scheduled to play Texas A&M and Tennessee so their schedule will have an SEC flare to it.
Look for these matchups to be unveiled hopefully in the next few weeks.
- December 8 - Dayton
I look for this to be around the time that Auburn will welcome Danjel Purifoy back to the lineup. This is the back-end of a home and home series as Auburn defeated Dayton 73-60 last year in Dayton.
- December 19 - at North Carolina State
I’m really excited about this one. This will be a great road test for Auburn traveling to Raleigh the week before Christmas. Kevin Keatts did wonders with the Wolfpack in Year 1 getting them to the NCAA Tournament but they did lose some key pieces, as did Auburn. This has a chance to be a really good game and a chance to go against a decent team from one of the best conferences in the country, the ACC.
The next 3 opponents are confirmed but the dates are still unknown.
- South Alabama with look completely different as new coach Richie Riley is bringing several transfers to Mobile. It will be nice to see more of these games against in-state opponents.
- Murray State was one of the best road environments Auburn played in last year and return Ohio Valley 1st-teamer Ja Morant. The Racers also have 2 Alabama players on their roster so this will be somewhat of a homecoming for them as well. They should still be the team to beat in the Ohio Valley Conference, although Belmont may have something to say about that.
- The UAB game will be played at the BJCC and we’ll see what Rob Ehsan has in store for the Blazers this year. All 3 previous match-ups with the Blazers have been close games so this will be a nice match-up for Auburn away from home.
Now for the fun stuff. Today, I wanted to share a few (realistic) teams that would be good opponents for Auburn. My hope is that these could be home-and-home series that would begin in Auburn this upcoming year.
Keep in mind, there is nothing concrete about any of these games happening. This is just a personal Wish List that I’ve complied.
- Clemson - Just kidding, I don’t want to see us play Clemson for awhile in any sport. Although I will say, it would be a great match-up and hopefully Auburn could finally beat Clemson in something.
- Florida State - This would be a great get for Auburn’s schedule. The Seminoles last played Auburn back on January 2, 2013, a 78-72 win for the Tigers in Auburn. Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles went to the NCAA Tournament as a 9 seed last year and made it all the way to the Elite 8. They look to be a Top 15-20 team this year with Phil Cofer and Terrance Mann leading the way for the Seminoles. The two schools are in fairly close proximity to each other and this would a great opportunity for both schools to build up their strength of schedule.
- Texas Tech/TCU - Since Auburn will not be in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge because of their Bottom 4 record back in 2016-2017, Auburn could elect to go on their own and schedule a Big 12 opponent. Enter Texas Tech or TCU. Chris Beard has turned around a Red Raider program in short order and like Florida State, was one game away from the Final Four last season. While the Red Raiders lost some pieces, Beard has proven to be an outstanding coach and will get the maximum effort from his players. As for TCU, Jamie Dixon has completely turned the Horned Frogs around and TCU made the NCAA Tournament last year for the first time since 1998. Auburn has played both teams on their home court in the past few years in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge so both schools owe us a trip to Auburn.
- Oregon - Another Top 20 preseason team would be an awesome get for Auburn’s schedule. Dana Altman will have one of the best teams in the Pac-12 and most of their schedule still remains a mystery. They will play at Baylor next year so we’ll see if they would add another Power 5 road game to the schedule. It would be cool to see these two schools meet on the hardwood if for nothing else, to see what uniforms the Ducks would wear.
- St. John’s - How cool would it be for Mustapha Heron to return back to Auburn and get a standing ovation for what he did for this program? Heron waits to find out if the NCAA will grant him a hardship waiver to play basketball next year. He would join a team that features Shamorie Ponds. Ponds scored 33 against Duke, 37 against Villanova, 31 against Missouri and 44 against Marquette last year to give you an idea of how good he is. Chris Mullin has built his program with transfers and the Johnnies look to take a step forward this year, especially if Heron becomes eligible. Perhaps the back half would be a game at MSG in 19-20?
- Georgia Tech - This wouldn’t be the most exciting of the ones listed above but it would be nice to see Auburn and Georgia Tech meet in more sports. The Yellow Jackets are already scheduled to play at Tennessee this year so 2 road trips to SEC schools looks unlikely but the return trip to Atlanta the following year would likely bring a huge Auburn contingent.
Look for the full non-conference schedule to come out by the end of July and the SEC schedule to be released sometime in August. There are tons of other great options out there so please comment below on who you would like to see come to Auburn Arena next year. War Eagle!