AUBURN, Ala. — The excitement surrounding Auburn basketball continues to build as the Tigers landed at No. 24 in ESPN’s BPI rankings released on Thursday.
According to ESPN, BPI is a predictive model of team strength incorporating factors including past performance of the coach and players on the roster, recruiting rankings and the percentage of minutes returning.
Auburn is one of four SEC teams on the list, trailing No. 13 Kentucky, No. 20 Alabama and No. 21 Arkansas. The Tigers are ahead of defending national champion North Carolina (No. 26) and SEC rivals Florida, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt and Tennessee.
Also of note: TCU, which Auburn defeated 88-80 in Big 12/SEC Challenge in Fort Worth, Texas, last season, earned a No. 9 ranking. The Horned Frogs went on to win the postseason NIT.
The system does not take transfers into account. The Tigers picked up VCU transfer Samir Doughty and junior college forward Malik Dunbar. Of course, Auburn also added freshmen Chuma Okeke and Davion Mitchell.
Bruce Pearl’s program has not been lacking for national attention this summer, and these rankings are simply the latest example. Auburn was the only other school besides Kentucky that had two representatives at Team USA training camp ahead of the 2017 FIBA World Cup.
Rising sophomore center Austin Wiley ended up traveling back to Alabama with a bronze medal and lots of attention from NBA scouts.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl has been vocal about the expectations for this season, and the praise Auburn continues to receive continues to line up with the head coach’s hopes for the coming season.
“I think the NCAA Tournament is realistic and should be our expectation,” Pearl said.