Over on the 247 Sports Auburn website there was an article titled "Pearl wants to stand up for the SEC". The main-point of the story was that Bruce Pearl is trying to toughen up Auburn by playing hard games in their non-conference schedule. Pearl went on to talk about the Big 12 and how it is important to play quality opponents. It was an interesting article that was actually made out to sort of glorify Texas Tech as a respectable Big 12 opponent on the Tigers non-conference schedule.
Texas Tech's RPI ranks No. 162, which will be the second-highest RPI team Auburn has played this season behind Colorado at No. 62. Milwaukee and Louisiana were NCAA Tournament teams last season, but are 2-7 combined this season and both rank in the 300's in RPI. Tulsa - an Auburn loss - ranks No. 162, while Oregon State - an Auburn win - ranks No. 192.
"It’s a huge opportunity for us," Pearl said. "It’s an RPI, it’s in the (SEC-Big 12) challenge and when people are sorting out of our conference versus the Big 12, these are the kind of games that put you in or out of the tournament."
It is a compliment that many Tech fans tend to forget the Big 12 is known as a top-notch college basketball conference. Other teams look at a game against anyone in the Big 12 as a serious challenge, no matter what record the team being played has had during Big 12 play. A win against anyone in the Big 12 counts as a quality win.
From an exposure standpoint, Pearl and Auburn playing a Tubby Smith-led team in Texas Tech on the SEC Network to start the SEC-Big 12 Challenge is significant.
"These games matter. The conference had an opportunity, when I got the job, for somebody to go play on the road in the Big-12 challenge," said Pearl. "That’s what was offered to me. I knew that it was not going to be a home game, even though Auburn went to Iowa State last year. Without knowing the opponent, I took it, even though we had a couple of other road games on the schedule. I wanted Auburn to be included in this challenge."
It is nice to hear that we are a wanted battle. Also, I want to remind everyone that when I went to Baton Rouge all the LSU fans in the stands were asking about Tubby Smith and our team this year. Nobody out of conference (even the SEC) has written us off. It's part to do with our elite Big 12 conference reputation and part because of our prestigious Coach Tubby Smith. The legendary Coach running our program is a huge influencing factor of how we are portrayed to others.
I wanted to flip the script and let us Tech fans appreciate our scheduling of SEC opponents. We need to get a win in this game today for the Big 12 just as much as Auburn needs a win for the SEC. To my knowledge Texas Tech has not beat an SEC team in non-conference play since the 2006-07 season. We beat Arkansas 71-56 on the road, and guess what... we made the NCAA tourney that year.
We lost to LSU in barnburners this and last season. The past few seasons we have dropped games to Alabama. It is time for the Red Raiders to get a quality win over an SEC team. Our conference always has 3 or 4 squads ranked continually in the Top 25 college basketball weekly rankings. So does the SEC. Our conference keeps annually sending over 5 or 6 teams to the Big Dance, so does the SEC.
This game today against an SEC opponent to kickoff the Big 12/SEC Challenge is a big deal. I am excited to show what we got, and get that much awaited SEC victory that will propel Texas Tech basketball to the next level. Wreck 'em Tech!