This and That in Mid-December
It has been a fun year in basketball, thus far
(Photo by Acid Reign)
War Eagle, everybody! Christmas season is roaring in, and it’s hard to believe that Auburn’s appearance in this year’s Music City Bowl is just 2 weeks away. Fall seems to go by quicker and quicker each year. On the hardwood this week, the men’s basketball team has a couple of interesting matchups with road trips to UAB Saturday and North Carolina State next Wednesday evening.
Normally, Auburn and UAB play a fairly close game, but I’m not so sure that will happen this year. Auburn has just a single loss this season to mighty Duke by a half-dozen points. UAB has lost to Georgia, Florida State, College of Charleston, and Memphis. The loss to FSU was by 18, and the last couple of losses were by more than 20 points. We will have to see if Auburn plays down to this team or if the Tigers will run away with it. This game tips off at 6:30 PM Central Time Saturday on the CBS Sports Network.
North Carolina State will be a significant challenge. Like Auburn, it’s only lost once, a close 79–75 decision at Wisconsin. The Wolfpack rebounded from that loss by knocking off Vanderbilt 80–65 in Miami. As I look down the NC State schedule, I notice that in 10 games it broke the 100-point mark 5 times. Auburn has only broken 100 twice. Beating Vanderbilt by that margin is impressive, and the Commodores have long been a thorn in Auburn’s side in basketball.
The drama this week with the Auburn football program is that the Tigers have hired an offensive coordinator, Kenny Dillingham, and that head coach Gus Malzahn will call plays. I think this is a good thing. I’d rather have the head coach take ownership than suffer the back-and-forth rumors we’ve heard for the last 3 years. There was just one time in Auburn history where the offense averaged 30 or more points per game over a season for 4 straight years. That was from 1993–1996. The head coach, Terry Bowden, called the plays, and it worked out OK. Former Auburn coach Gene Chizik went on record this week stating that Gus Malzahn is one of the best play callers in the business.
The more I look at the Purdue football team, the more I’m struck by its inconsistency. This team was good enough to mangle Ohio State by 29 points and bad enough to lose to Eastern Michigan and take a 41–10 beating at Minnesota. Boilermaker losses were to Northwestern, Eastern Michigan, Missouri, Michigan State, Minnesota and Wisconsin. They beat Boston College, Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio State, Iowa and Indiana.
Auburn and Purdue will tangle on Friday, December 29th at 12:30 PM on ESPN. I plan to have my usual open thread cranked up and ready to go, and I’m worried about this game. Auburn is coming off a rather disappointing season while Purdue is happy just to have made a bowl game this year. A team in turmoil meets an up-and-coming team, looking to make a mark. Auburn will be in trouble if it tries to mail it in against this team.