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Auburn Non-Conference Schedule Preview

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Auburn will face several quality opponents in the Non-Conference portion of the season.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Basketball Tipoff Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

So if you’re looking for a place to get a lot of Auburn Basketball content, you have come to the right place! This is going to be a content heavy week of schedule, roster and league previews as we work our way to next Tuesday’s season opener against Georgia Southern.

In this article, we’ll look at the non-conference schedule and there are some several quality opponents on it. While you may initially look at it and think this isn’t the best schedule, there’s a lot of upper echelon teams from mid-major conferences that Auburn will face this season. It will also be beneficial as a group of 5 seniors and 8 newcomers look to gel together as they prepare for the rough and tumble that is SEC play. So we’ll go down the list and look at each non-conference opponent on Auburn’s schedule.

Tuesday November 5th

8PM, SEC Network

Georgia Southern Eagles

Sun Belt Conference

Last Year’s Record: 21-12 (12-6)

KenPom Ranking: 126

Preseason Media Prediction: 3rd

Leading Returning Scorers: Quan Jackson (14.8 PPG), Ike Smith (14.7 PPG), Isaiah Crawley (11.6 PPG)

The Eagles, led by Head Coach Mark Byington, return 3 of their top 4 scorers from last season. The Eagles averaged 82.6 points a game last season which was 15th best in America last season. To compare with Auburn, they averaged 79.7 last season. This should be a solid opening night game for Auburn.

Friday November 8th

5PM, CBS Sports Network

Davidson Wildcats

Veterans Classic - Annapolis, Maryland

Atlantic 10 Conference

Last Year’s Record: 24-10 (14-4)

KenPom Ranking: 61

Preseason Media Prediction: 2nd

Leading Returning Scorers: Kellan Grady (17.3 PPG), Jon Axel Gudmundsson (16.9 PPG), Luka Brajkovic (11.1 PPG)

What a cool spectacle this will be! This game will be held on the campus of the Naval Academy at the start of Veterans Day Weekend.

KenPom has them quite a bit lower than the preseason polls as they are the 6th team in the Receiving Votes portion of the AP Poll. I saw a Davidson game last year in person and was extremely impressed with 6’10” forward Luka Brajkovic. The Austrian native will be a terrific early season test for Auburn’s bigs.

In addition, Kellan Grady and Iceland native Jon Axel Gudmundsson, both 1st Team Preseason All A-10 players return this season. In addition to the match-up between Brajkovic and Wiley, I’m looking forward to seeing how guys like Samir Doughty and Isaac Okoro match-up against Grady.

The Head Coach of the Wildcats is Bob McKillop, who enters his 31st season at Davidson. Davidson truly recruits worldwide as their roster is made up of players from 7 different countries. This will be Davidson’s season opener and with the Wildcats one of the teams Receiving Votes in the Preseason Top 25, this would be a great Week 1 win for Auburn.

Tuesday November 12th

7PM, ESPN+

at South Alabama Jaguars

Sun Belt Conference

Last Year’s Record: 17-17 (8-10)

KenPom Ranking: 120

Preseason Media Prediction: 1st

Leading Returning Scorers: Josh Ajayi (16.4 PPG), Trhae Mitchell (13.6 PPG), Herb McGee (10 PPG)

This is an intriguing game for multiple reasons. First of all, Auburn returns to Mobile to play the Jaguars for the first time since 1995 as part of a 3 game series which began last year. While Auburn played South Alabama last year and won 101-58, I expect this game to be much different as Richie Riley has put a solid roster together, including multiple transfers from Power 5 schools and the Jaguars look like they can contend in the Sun Belt this season.

Friday November 15th

6PM, SEC Network

Cal State Northridge Matadors

Legends Classic Campus Game

Big West Conference

Last Year’s Record: 13-21 (7-9)

KenPom Ranking: 175

Preseason Media Prediction: 3rd

Leading Returning Scorers: Lamine Diane (24.8 PPG), Terrell Gomez (19.2 PPG), Darius Brown II (8.3 PPG)

If you’re going to the Auburn-Georgia game, make it a point to get to Auburn a day early and watch the basketball team! Heck, make it a long weekend with basketball playing at home on Friday and Monday with the football game sandwiched between these two games.

The Matadors are coached by former Alabama Head Coach Mark Gottfried. The Matadors look to improve in Year 2 of Gottfried’s tenure in Northridge. Lamine Diane was 6th in the nation last year in scoring at 24.8 points per game as a freshman. Only Antoine Davis of Detroit Mercy averaged more points a game as a freshman last season.

Monday November 18th

7PM, SEC Network

Colgate Raiders

Legends Classic Campus Game

Patriot League

Last Year’s Record: 24-11 (13-5)

KenPom Ranking: 115

Preseason Media Prediction: 1st

Leading Returning Scorers: Jordan Burns (16.3 PPG), Rapolas Ivanasukas (15.9 PPG), Will Rayman (13.1 PPG)

When you think about Colgate, you probably think about Toothpaste but don’t let that fool you, this is a good team Auburn will be facing. The Raiders received a vote in the Preseason Top 25 as all each of their Top 3 scorers return from last year’s squad that pushed Tennessee in the 1st Round of the NCAA Tournament as a 15 seed. Their leading scorer, Jordan Burns, scored 32 against the Vols in a 77-70 season ending loss. To get to the NCAA Tournament, Burns scored 35 points against Bucknell in the Patriot League Championship.

Monday November 25th

8:30PM, ESPN NEWS

New Mexico Lobos

Legends Classic - Brooklyn

Mountain West Conference

Last Year’s Record: 14-18 (7-11)

KenPom Ranking: 91

Preseason Media Prediction: 3rd

Leading Returning Scorers: Vance Jackson (13.1 PPG), Carlton Bragg (10.5 PPG), Makuach Maluach (9.9 PPG)

New Mexico is a proud basketball school bu they have struggled over the last several years. They are hoping that Head Coach Paul Weir, who came over from in-state rival New Mexico State a couple years ago, can finally restore the Lobos program. The Lobos will get a boost finally getting JaQuan Lyle eligible, a transfer from Ohio State. Bragg started his career at Kansas and moved on to Arizona State before finally landing in Albuquerque last season. There’s some talent on this Lobos roster and they’re hoping to find their way back to the NCAA Tournament as they haven’t been since the 2013-2014 season.

Tuesday November 26th

4/6:30PM, ESPN2/ESPNU

Wisconsin Badgers OR Richmond Spiders

Legends Classic - Brooklyn

Wisconsin

Big 10 Conference

Last Year’s Record: 23-11 (14-6)

KenPom Ranking: 45

Preseason Media Prediction: 6th

Leading Returning Scorers: D’Mitrik Trice (11.6 PPG), Brad Davison (10.5 PPG), Nate Reuvers (7.9 PPG)

Auburn would be well served to draw the Badgers in the 2nd game in Brooklyn. That said, the Badgers lost their leading scorer Ethan Happ from last year and expectations are lower in Madison this year. In addition, the Badgers play slow on offense averaging 68.6 points so this could be quite the contrast of styles if this match up comes to fruition. The Badgers returned to the NCAA Tournament last season after missing their first NCAA Tournament in 20 years the year before. It was a short stay last year as they lost by 20 to 12th seeded Oregon to end their season out in San Jose.

Richmond

Atlantic 10 Conference

Last Year’s Record: 13-20 (6-12)

KenPom Ranking: 92

Preseason Media Predictions: 6th

Leading Returning Scorers: Grant Golden (17.2 PPG), Jacob Gilyard (16.2 PPG), Nathan Cayo (12.9 PPG)

Richmond reached the Sweet 16 back in 2010-2011. That seems like a few eternities ago and the Spiders have lost 20 games each of the last 2 years. But expectations should be higher this year as Richmond brings back their top 6 scorers from last year’s squad, including 6’10” 255 pound forward Grant Golden. Their starting lineup will consist of all juniors so the experience is certainly there for the Spiders this year. I have a feeling this is make or break year for Head Coach Chris Mooney, but then again, I thought last year was so we’ll see.

Thursday December 5th

8PM, SEC Network

Furman Paladins

Southern Conference

Last Year’s Record: 25-8 (13-5)

KenPom Ranking: 105

Preseason Media Prediction: 3rd

Leading Returning Scorers: Jordan Lyons (16.2 PPG), Clay Mounce (10.7), Alex Hunter (9 PPG)

The Paladins were the darlings of college basketball early last season. The earned road wins at both Loyola-Chicago and Villanova, who were both fresh off of Final Four appearances. They were in the conversation for an at-large bid despite their mid major affiliation all the way until March. The program from Greenville, South Carolina brings back most of their team from last season and the turnover at rival Wofford, there’s an opening to be that league’s best team with Furman having a legit shot at filling that spot. Furman lost their leading scorer from last year but return 5 of the next 6 leading scorers to this year’s team. Jordan Lyons leads that group of returners and he tied a NCAA record by making 15 3-pointers in a game last season.

Saturday December 14th

3PM, ESPN2

Saint Louis Billikens

Mike Slive Invitational - Birmingham

Atlantic 10 Conference

Last Year’s Record: 23-13 (10-8)

KenPom Ranking: 141

Preseason Media Prediction: 7th

Leading Returning Scorers: Jordan Goodwin (10.5 PPG), Hasahn French (9.3 PPG), Fred Thatch Jr. (4.3 PPG)

The Billikens won 4 games in 4 days (sound familiar) in their conference tournament to make the NCAA Tournament despite finishing 6th in their conference last season. Former Oklahoma State head coach Travis Ford leads the program now. The top 2 scorers and 5 of their top 7 scorers from last year’s team are gone. They will get a boost from Tay Weaver, a graduate transfer guard from Eastern Kentucky who averaged 10.2 points a game for the Colonels last season. This is the first of a 3 game series between the two schools.

Thursday December 19th

8PM, ESPN2

North Carolina State Wolfpack

Atlantic Coast Conference

Last Year’s Record: 24-12 (9-9)

KenPom Ranking: 28

Preseason Media Prediction: 6th

Leading Returning Scorers: Markell Johnson (12.6 PPG), C.J. Bryce (11.6 PPG), Braxton Beverly (9.4 PPG)

Okay, so Auburn should be looking to get some revenge in this one. Remember, this game last year was scheduled on the same day as a graduation so the Tigers didn’t get a chance to get into the building in Raleigh until they got there for the game. Is it too late to move a graduation to a Thursday? I kid (sorta).

I made the trip last year for this one and this quite the frustrating game to watch. Markell Johnson had a career high 27 points against Auburn and he is the leading returning scorer for the Wolfpack. Beverly and Devon Daniels, who also returns, each had 15 points against the Tigers last year. Beverly and Johnson were a combined 9-13 from 3-point range last year. As for Auburn, this was the best regular season game from J’Von McCormick as he led Auburn with 14 points. With much more of a load this year, J’Von will look to duplicate that this year on homecourt.

Saturday December 21st

5PM, SEC Network

Lehigh Mountain Hawks

Patriot League

Last Year’s Record: 20-11 (12-6)

KenPom Ranking: 227

Preseason Media Prediction: 7th

Leading Returning Scorers: Jordan Cohen (13.6 PPG), James Karnik (9.3 PPG), Jeameril Wilson (4.8 PPG)

Lehigh always has one of the better teams in the Patriot League but this might be a rebuilding year for the Mountain Hawks. Lehigh led the entire NCAA last year in 3-point % making 42.3% of their 3-pointers. 3 of their top 4 scorers from last year, including both starting guards graduated and they accounted for 74% of Lehigh’s made 3-pointers last year. The Mountain Hawks will be led by Jordan Cohen this year and he shot 47.5% from 3-point range last year, 2nd best in the country.

Some of you may remember Lehigh as the school that gave us C.J. McCollum and beat Duke in the NCAA Tournament back in 2012.

Sunday December 29th

3PM, SEC Network

Lipscomb Bisons

Atlantic Sun Conference

Last Year’s Record: 29-8 (14-2)

KenPom Ranking: 182

Preseason Media Prediction: 5th

Leading Returning Scorers: Ahsan Asadullah (7.4 PPG), Michael Buckland (5.7 PPG), Andrew Fleming (4.1 PPG)

As you can tell from the previous line, it’s a new era for Lipscomb after one of their best years in program history last season.

Like Furman, Lipscomb was also a mid-major who looked to claim an at-large bid up until the very end of the season. But the Bisons lost to Liberty at home in their conference title game and thus ended up in the NIT. They won a trio of games on the road, including at Davidson and at N.C. State, to make it to the Final Four of the NIT. Casey Alexander, their coach, moved up the street to coach Belmont and Garrison Matthews, who averaged 20.6 points per game is now in the NBA. All together, the Bisons lost 5 of their 6 top scorers from last year’s team.

The Bisons hired longtime University of Alabama-Huntsville coach Lennie Acuff to take over for Alexander. Living in Nashville now, I hope to see some of Lipscomb before they come to Auburn in late December.

Saturday January 25th

11AM, ESPN/ESPN2/ESPNU

Iowa State Cyclones

SEC/Big 12 Challenge

Big 12 Conference

Last Year’s Record:

KenPom Ranking: 47

Preseason Media Prediction: 7th

Leading Returning Scorers: Michael Jacobsen (11.1 PPG), Tyrese Haliburton (6.8 PPG), Terrence Lewis (4.3 PPG)

Man I wish the Tigers would have been in this event the last 2 years while I was on campus but it’s good to see Auburn back in this for the foreseeable future. They host their first game in this event in four years on the final Saturday of January as Iowa State makes their maiden voyage to Auburn.

The Cyclones lost their top 3 scorers but Tyrese Haliburton looks primed to become this year’s go-to guy for the Cyclones, as he shot 43.4% from 3 last year. This is a young Cyclones team and it’s evident based on the returning scorers line as 12 players on this roster are underclassmen, including Haliburton.

If you’re still reading, thanks for hanging in there! We’re just getting started with Auburn Basketball Preview coverage this week and we’ll have a look at the SEC, position previews and other exciting content to get you through the next week. War Eagle!