White-Hot Auburn Looks to Snap Its Wildcat Jinx
Share this article
Bruce Pearl is not now and never has been a shrinking violet.
Right now, he's got his Auburn Tiger squad in the same mindset. Dudes are surprising their Dance opponents on a gamely basis.
Fans, administrators, and overall detractors can say what they will about John Calipari -- and they do every chance they get -- but dude knows how to instantly tourney-harden underclassmen on an annual basis.
Pearl's had Auburn looking good from the start this season, but try as they might, the Tigers just can't get past Kentucky and it's latest batch of talented frosh:
- Dudes fell a pair of points short on their home court, losing 82-80; and
- The 'Cats took note, tweaked a thing or two, and then ka-rushed their feisty foes in Lexington, 80-53.
Now, they're moving to a neutral court with their respective seasons on the line.
Why you should bet on Auburn ...
For one, take a look at their neutral court record: 10-1. Those games are either played against quality opposition or in elimination scenarios. The Tigers rise to the occasion in big games.
Dudes do it from downtown. Auburn's one of the country's most prolific sharpshooters from beyond the arc, with Bryce Brown and Jared Harper doing the most damage. Looks like they'll be missing a key component with Chuma Okeke injured. He was a major factor in their taking down both Kansas and North Carolina, and how they compensate inside will be a huge factor.
Why bet on Kentucky ...
A key reason for the Wildcats' sweep of Auburn was their virtually total dominance on the boards. Kentucky collectively out-rebounded the Tigers, 75-50, with Keldon Johnson, Reid Travis, and PJ Washington in constant beast mode.
Johnson and Washington also have range that extends to the arc, which has been useful in softening their opponents' packed-in defenses. The Wildcats shot over 54% against Auburn this season; if Okeke can't play, there's a strong possibility that'll happen again.
Instant analysis ...
Prior to Auburn doing it, no team has ever conquered both the Jayhawks and Tar Heels in the same NCAA tournament. It's a sign that they're living in the moment and thriving on it.
With the neutral court factor and considering their loss in Lexington was a sobering reality that nothing less than their best will do, odds are strong that this game will more closely resemble the result in Auburn. This game should go down to the wire.
ATS pick: Auburn +5
Result: Auburn 77 Kentucky 71 ... Tigers cover
Well, to be accurate, read closely:
Enter to win our March Madness Bracket Contest! All you need to do is pick the most winners, with our point system giving more weight to later-round winners. This is a pool for players, if you get our drift.
As well, we'll have re-sets for each round. You'll never be out of it, so get in it to win it!