This Just In: Life is Hard if you’re a SEC Basketball Team... and that’s the way it should be.
The highly anticipated SEC Basketball schedule was released yesterday completing the Tigers 2022-2023 schedule.
With the league continuing to grow stronger year after year, it will be a daunting task for the Tigers to repeat as SEC Regular Season Champions, particularly losing 2 1st Round Draft Picks but the Tigers will press on with a veteran laden squad and bolstered by freshmen Yohan Traore, Chance Westry and Morehead State transfer Johni Broome.
Auburn has 4 home games to start the season against George Mason (11/7), South Florida (11/11), Winthrop (11/15) and Texas Southern (11/18). The Tigers will then head to Cancun on the 22nd to face Bradley and then will face either Liberty or Northwestern on the 23rd.
The highlight of the home slate in non-conference is against Saint Louis on November 27th, the Sunday following the Iron Bowl. The Billikens will be loaded this season returning all of their key players from last year’s squad that nearly knocked Auburn off in Saint Louis last season. The Tigers host Colgate on December 2nd before finals and then will play Memphis in Atlanta for the 2nd time in 3 seasons. This will be the Tigers 3rd straight season playing in Holiday Hoopsgiving at the Atlanta Hawk’s State Farm Arena. That game will be on December 10th. Auburn closes their home portion of the non-conference schedule on December 14th against Georgia State.
To round out the non-conference slate, the Tigers will travel to play at 3 Power 5 schools, including a west coast trip to Los Angeles and Seattle right before Christmas to start a home and series with Southern Cal on December 18th and then at Washington on December 21st to finally complete a home and home series with the Huskies. The series started in Auburn back in the 2018-2019 season, an 88-66 Auburn win in a ranked vs ranked matchup inside Auburn Arena. Auburn also goes to West Virginia on January 28th in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Looking at the non-conference schedule, I would have loved to have seen a game at home against a Power 5 school. Auburn will get to host Southern Cal next season but definitely don’t want to discredit Saint Louis, who should be a Top 25 team when they come to town. The Billikens are 1 of 2 Atlantic 10 schools on the schedule with the season opener against Kim English’s George Mason Patriots being the other. George Mason last played Auburn in the 2017-2018 season. Auburn also has 2 teams from the American on the schedule with Memphis and USF. The USF game is the back end of a home and home series in which Auburn won 58-52 in Tampa last season.
Auburn should also be fairly heavily favored to win their non-conference tournament in Cancun as well. The west coast road trip will be a great test for the Tigers as they get ready to enter SEC play.
Looking at the early portion of the SEC schedule, there’s a couple of revenge opportunities for Auburn from last season. The first one is at home against Colin Castleton and the Florida Gators on December 28th. The Gators denied Auburn’s attempt to win in Gainesville for the first time since 1996, a 63-62 loss in which the Tigers were able to convert on the game’s final possession. It will be the SEC Coaching debut of a former Auburn assistant as Todd Golden takes over for Mike White and will kick off his SEC Career against one of his former bosses. Speaking of Mike White…
Auburn’s 1st SEC road game comes after the New Year as the Tigers head to Athens on January 4th for the first of 2 matchups this season. The Tigers will have January 7th circled as they welcome Arkansas to Neville Arena. This will be the first matchup since the teams played an OT thriller back on February 8th in a raucous Bud Walton Arena, a game won by the Razorbacks to snap Auburn’s 19 game winning streak and knock the Tigers off the throne as the #1 team in America. There’s no love lost between these two fanbases and if you’ve been following Wendell Green on Twitter, you know this game will mean a ton to him. Jaylin Williams is gone but the Razorbacks had an absolute loaded recruiting class led by Nick Smith who chose Arkansas over Auburn among others.
The Tigers will face both Mississippi schools next as Auburn heads to Oxford on January 10th to take on Ole Miss before hosting Mississippi State on Saturday January 14th. The Bulldogs are now coached by Chris Jans who comes to the SEC from New Mexico State. The Tigers hit the road for the next 2 games as Auburn heads to Baton Rouge to take on a new-look LSU team that has the potential to be one of the most intriguing teams in the league. That said, we’re still waiting to hear from the NCAA if/what their punishment will be following the firing of Will Wade. You could call these guys Murray State South with Matt McMahon taking over as Head Coach and bringing 3 guys from a Racers team that won 30 games last season to the Bayou with him. Auburn will then head to Columbia, South Carolina to take on South Carolina January 21st. The Gamecocks also have a new head coach and recently landed the #1 recruit in 2023 who reclassified to 2022 in GG Jackson.
Auburn then faces Buzz Williams and Texas A&M in Auburn on January 25th and surely the guys will remember what happened in Tampa back in March before taking a break from SEC play to travel to Morgantown to take on West Virginia in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
February starts with Georgia coming to the Plains on the 1st before the first of 2 Saturday matchups with the Tennessee Volunteers. The first one is in Knoxville on February 4th. Tennessee defeated Auburn for the first time in 7 tries back on February 26th and so the Tigers will look to start a new winning streak against Tennessee.
Auburn then heads to College Station on February 7th for a rematch with the Aggies and then the first of two games with in-state foe Alabama on Saturday February 11th. It was certainly a disappointing year last season for Alabama but they have reloaded and this should be another great game in this in-state rivalry.
Plan your Valentine’s Day accordingly ladies and gents as the Tigers host Missouri on February 14th before Auburn heads to the Music City on Saturday February 18th to take on Vanderbilt to the delight of this writer who finally gets a home game to see his Tigers. Auburn will host Ole Miss on February 22nd.
The final 3 games is a gauntlet for Auburn which starts with those Cats from Kentucky on Saturday February 25th up in Lexington. There’s been a lot of back and forth between the fanbases since Auburn’s win on January 22nd and Auburn will look to win there for the first time since 1988. Auburn’s been close the last 2 visits but weren’t able to close it out.
Next, Auburn heads to Tuscaloosa for a mid-week matchup on Wednesday March 1st. Auburn was able to get out of there with a victory last season and will look for 2 in a row at Coleman Coliseum. Finally, the Tigers get to host Tennessee to close out the season.
I love this schedule placement for multiple reasons: both teams should be in the hunt for a SEC title that day and seeding will likely be on the line in the SEC Tournament that day. Second, these 2 finished 1-2 in the regular season standings last year and the Vols won the SEC Tournament after Auburn won the regular season. In fact, I love what the league did for the final day of the regular season. While Auburn hosts Tennessee, Arkansas will host Kentucky so the Top 4 teams from last season will face off to close the season. I can’t remember the last time Kentucky didn’t face Florida to end the regular season but they won’t this season. Auburn and Arkansas actually finish with the same 3 opponents as the Hogs go to Alabama & Tennessee before closing at home against Kentucky.
What matchups are you looking forward to this season the most?