Vanderbilt has a home-and-home series scheduled with five teams in 2016; Tennessee, Texas A&M, Kentucky, Florida, and Auburn. One of those things is not like the other.
The Commodores will book a return trip to Alabama on Saturday when they face a Tiger team spiraling to the bottom of the SEC standings. Bruce Pearl's team has lost six straight games after a 3-3 start to league play and are without leading scorer Kareem Canty, who has been suspended indefinitely by the team. Since beating Alabama three weeks ago, Auburn hasn't just been losing - it's been losing by an average of 18 points per game.
So while Vanderbilt gets another no-win situation, Saturday's game will provide another opportunity for the Commodores to steel themselves before a season-ending four game stretch that includes games against the rest of their home-and-home partners. Vandy can't afford to take the Tigers lightly - a loss would likely extinguish any hope for an at-large bid - but the team should be able to use Saturday's experience to notch another victory on the road.
Auburn is ranked a mere seven spots ahead of Vanderbilt's last opponent Missouri. Somehow, those Tigers beat their western counterpart by 15 points back in early January. It wasn't Auburn's worst loss - an 18-point defeat to 9-13 Harvard was - but it may be the most relevant after Wednesday's game.
Auburn (9-14, 3-8 SEC, ranked No. 185 in Ken Pomeroy's ratings)
Other Losses: Tons.
The Tigers recorded their first conference win on the road five weeks ago and then hasn't won a game since. Auburn beat arch-rival Alabama three weeks ago and hasn't even sniffed victory in the interim.
Point of emphasis: Make Auburn's guards take shots. The Tigers got a Kobe-esque 6-24 shooting performance from their guards in the loss - and that was before they lost Canty for an indeterminate amount of time. Canty was only shooting 40 percent this year, but that's still light years ahead of the 10-44 mark the team's guards have thrown up since his departure. Auburn will have to prove its backcourt can make shots in order to pull off the upset.
Keys to the Game: