ESPN BPI projections for Auburn's 2021-22 schedule

Basketball is finally back on the Plains.

After a longer-than-usual wait, since the Tigers didn't participate in any postseason play last year, Auburn will tip off its 2021-22 campaign in earnest Tuesday night against Morehead State (7 p.m. CST, SEC Network+). Bruce Pearl's team beat Southern Indiana in an exhibition contest last Friday, 68-54.

"We’ll have to play better than we did against Southern Indiana," Pearl said Sunday. "Southern Indiana was a great test for us — exposed a lot of things that we weren’t doing very well. Our kids played hard; kids tried to play together. But we’ll have to play better both offensively and defensively and in transition to be able to beat (Morehead State)."

Expectations are high for this year's Auburn team, which Pearl has called his most talented yet as he enters his eighth year leading the program. The Tigers ranked No. 22 in the preseason AP poll and No. 28 in KenPom.

They're widely expected to return to the NCAA tournament this year with a rotation that blends experienced returnees and high-profile transfers. Auburn was picked to finish fifth in the SEC in the preseason media poll.

A few days before the season opener, ESPN fired up its Basketball Power Index. According to ESPN’s definition, “Basketball Power Index measures a team's true strength going forward; expected point margin per 70 possessions vs an average opponent on a neutral court.” Teams can have negative BPI scores, so they’re measured how far above or below average a team is expected to be against a standard opponent.

The metric features win-percentage predictions for every Division-I team, and will be updated daily until a national champion is crowned. Auburn ranks No. 38 in the preseason BPI.

Here's what it thinks of Auburn's chances in the SEC and beyond this season.

Offense: No. 24 (4th in SEC)

Defense: No. 82 (11th in SEC)

Overall: No. 38 (7th in SEC)

Nov. 9 vs. Morehead State: 88.6% chance to win

Nov. 12 vs. Louisiana-Monroe: 91.2%

Nov. 19 at USF: 52.9%

Nov. 24 vs. UConn (Battle 4 Atlantis): 42.7%

Dec. 1 vs. UCF: 72.7%

Dec. 4 vs. Yale: 97.8%

Dec. 11 vs. Nebraska (Holiday Hoopsgiving): 65.4%

Dec. 14 vs. UNA: 91.8%

Dec. 18 at Saint Louis: 46.3%

Dec. 22 vs. Murray State: 77.0%

Dec. 29 vs. LSU: 62.5% 

Jan. 4 at South Carolina: 44.7%

Jan. 8 vs. Florida: 59.0%

Jan. 11 at Alabama: 36.6%

Jan. 15 at Ole Miss: 38.8%

Jan. 19 vs. Georgia: 78.4%

Jan. 22 vs. Kentucky: 42.6%

Jan. 25 at Missouri: 47.4%

Jan. 29 vs. Oklahoma (Big 12/SEC Challenge): 73.0%

Feb. 1 vs. Alabama: 64.4%

Feb. 5 at Georgia: 53.4%

Feb. 8 at Arkansas: 21.4%

Feb. 12 vs. Texas A&M: 71.6%

Feb. 16 vs. Vanderbilt: 76.3%

Feb. 19 at Florida: 29.8%

Feb. 23 vs. Ole Miss: 68.4%

Feb. 26 at Tennessee: 23.2%

March 2 at Mississippi State: 30.3%

March 5 vs. South Carolina: 74.4%

Most likely overall record: 17-12

Most likely SEC record: 9-9

1. Kentucky (13-5)

2. Tennessee (12-6)

3. Florida (10-8)

4. Arkansas (10-8)

5. Mississippi State (10-8)

6. Auburn (9-9)

7. LSU (9-9)

8. Alabama (9-9)

9. Ole Miss (9-9)

10. Texas A&M (8-10)

11. South Carolina (7-11)

12. Vanderbilt (7-11)

13. Missouri (7-11)

14. Georgia (6-12)

Chance to make Round of 32: 7.8%

Chance to make Sweet 16: 3.2%

Chance to make Elite Eight: 1.4%

Chance to make Final Four: 0.6%

ESPN: 6-seed vs. St. John's/Rutgers

ESPN BPI projections for Auburn's 2021-22 schedule

CBS: 5-seed vs. Ohio State/Wright State

ESPN BPI projections for Auburn's 2021-22 schedule