Ordinarily, a 7 PM Wednesday night home tip early in the spring semester against a team sitting in the RPI dregs of the SEC wouldn't be a big deal. Show up, win by 30, go home happy. Of course, normally Tennessee would win the game prior to this, but, well, they didn't.
Stop me if this sounds familiar.
Anyway, Tennessee's dipped to 58 in ESPN's Daily RPI, Auburn's sitting at 169, and the bubble has broken out its orange and white chair. By this point in time, you know the story behind what Tennessee can do - or stories, I suppose. It's not likely they'll lose to Auburn tonight, but we have to entertain the possibility, since, well, you know the alternative. (Other fun things you learn while messing around with RPI: Tennessee has the worst non-conference RPI in the conference, slotting in at a neat 241. These things happen when you lose to UTEP, I suppose, and no, I don't know how ESPN reconciles that with a 42nd-ranked SOS.)
To Auburn, no, really, I mean it. KT Harrell and Chris Denson - guards, the both of them - form the offensive firepower for the Tigers, slotting in at just over 19ppg apiece. (Denson, by the way, is horrible at shooting threes. Remember this when he goes 7-for-18 from downtown tonight.)
Your four factors:
By this point, none of these stats should be surprising; Auburn's going to struggle to rebound, Tennessee's going to be efficient, Tennessee's favored, and let's hope this actually matters.
Tip's coming up soon - matter of fact, the game thread is already live. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader if putting the preview up after the game thread is live was intentional, but the fact that Will didn't do this should be an obvious clue.