Coach Bruce Pearl (above) is beginning his third season at Auburn.
“I have always believed that you schedule where you want your program to be regardless of whether it is ready or not,” Auburn’s third-year head coach said.
The Tigers are coming off a season in which they were plagued by injuries and finished with an 11-20 record, including a 5-13 mark in the SEC.
Pearl said, “This is one of the toughest non-conference schedules in college basketball and our program will be challenged, but if we can manage to win a couple of games that we are not supposed to and grind out a few others, we could put our program in position to go some place we haven’t gone in a long time, and that is postseason.”
The schedule includes games vs. an Oklahoma team that played in the 2016 Final Four plus road tests against UConn, UAB and TCU. The Tigers will also take on Boston College, Texas Tech, North Florida, Coastal Carolina, Mercer, Georgia State, Eastern Kentucky and USC-Upstate. The Tigers could play either 12th-ranked Purdue or Utah State in the Cancun Challenge.
“One of our challenges in scheduling is to attract great teams to Auburn Arena,” Pearl said. “We have a great homecourt advantage, a tough place to play. This isn’t exactly fertile recruiting ground for people to come to and historically our RPI hasn’t been very strong so we aren’t an attractive opponent. We believe times are changing. To be able to get a program like UConn back in our building in 2017, we think we have a chance to be a pretty good team. It gives us an opportunity to build our resume.
“In the last couple of years, we have played Xavier, Colorado and Oklahoma State at home and that’s one of the things in developing a program is to develop your schedule, challenge your players and bring quality opponents into your own building,” Auburn’s coach added.
The Tigers will play an exhibition game on Nov. 4th vs. an in-state opponent, Division II Montevallo, a week before opening the regular season at home vs. a North Florida team that won the Atlantic Sun Conference the past two seasons.
Next will be four games in the Cancun Challenge begin with home games vs. Georgia State on Nov. 14 and Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 17. Georgia State has won 25 games in two of the last three seasons and defeated Baylor in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. Eastern Kentucky has won 21 or more games three out of the last four years.
T.J. Dunans, whose junior season was cut short due to an injury, is expected to be a key player for the 2016-17 Tigers.
The Tigers will then travel to Mexico for the next two games at the Hard Rock Hotel Riviera Maya with both televised by the CBS Sports Network. On Nov. 22 Tigers will play Texas Tech, a 2016 NCAA Tournament team, and will close the event vs. either Purdue or Utah State, a team that since 2000 has won seven regular season conference titles and six tournament championships.
Auburn plays at home vs. USC-Upstate on Nov. 29 and at Conference-USA champion UAB on Dec. 3. It will be the first time Auburn has played UAB in Birmingham since a 77-74 win in 1998.
Auburn will play in the inaugural Under Armour “Reunion” vs. Boston College on Dec. 12 in Madison Square Garden in what will be the Tigers’ first ever game in New York City.
The Tigers play their final two non-conference home games on Dec. 15th vs. a Coastal Carolina team coached by Cliff Ellis, whose squad defeated the visiting Tigers 81-78 last season, and Mercer will come to Auburn Arena on the 18th.
Before starting SEC play the Tigers will play the Oklahoma Sooners in the Hall of Fame’s Birthday of Basketball event at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., on Dec. 21, the 125th anniversary of the day the game of basketball was invented. Two days later the Tigers will play at UConn. The Huskies, who have won four national titles, will play a return game at Auburn in 2017.
Auburn’s final non-conference game will be on Jan. 28th when they travel to Fort Worth, Tex., to face TCU in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Nov. 4--Montevallo (exhibition)
Nov. 11--North Florida at Auburn
Nov. 14--Georgia State at Auburn (Cancun Challenge)
Nov. 17--Eastern Kentucky at Auburn (Cancun Challenge)
Nov. 22--Auburn vs. Texas Tech at Cancun Challenge, Hard Rock Hotel, Riveria Maya, Mexico
Nov. 23--Auburn vs. Purdue or Utah State at Cancun Challenge, Hard Rock Hotel, Riveria Maya, Mexico
Nov. 29--USC-Upstate at Auburn
Dec. 3--Auburn at UAB
Dec. 12--Auburn vs. Boston College at Madison Square Garden, New York City
Dec. 15--Coastal Carolina at Auburn
Dec. 18--Mercer at Auburn
Dec. 21--Auburn vs. Oklahoma at Hall of Fame’s Birthday of Basketball, Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Conn
Dec. 23--Auburn at Connecticut
Jan. 28--Auburn at TCU, SEC/Big 12 Challenge