Auburn hosts the Eastern Kentucky Colonels tonight and you are cancelling your plans. I don’t care that the semifinals of your bowling league are tonight. It doesn’t matter that it took you two weeks to get a table at Highlands Bar and Grill. Auburn basketball is on and it’s fun again.
Like North Florida, and Georgia State, the Colonels have recent history in the NCAA Tournament, appearing as a 15 seed back in 2014. This year’s EKU is not expected to be as good. They were predicted to finish 5th out of 6 in the Ohio Valley Conference’s East Division.
Coach Dan McHale likes to run. Last year, Eastern Kentucky averaged over 80 points per game, good for 23rd nationally. They shot 39.5% from 3 as a team, the 13th highest average in the country. That exciting play didn’t translate to the win/loss column. The Colonels finished 15-16 with a 6-10 conference record.
The 1-1 Colonels are led by last year’s OVC Freshman of the Year, Nick Mayo. The 6’9” forward averaged 14.5 points and 4.9 rebounds last year. This year, he’s averaging 22 and 7.5.
Down low, the Colonels are anchored bu a 6’7” JUCO transfer rebounding machine named Zach Charles. Charles isn’t much of a threat on the offensive end, but he had 14 rebounds in their last game.
The Colonels have gotten a little extra spark this year from freshman Asante Gist. Gist is averaging 18 points per game.
The computers don’t think much of EKU. They’re ranked 311 (RPI), 215 (Sagarin), and 239 (KenPom). The computers don’t know what to make of Auburn yet. We’re 278 (RPI), 82 (Sagarin), and 129 (KenPom). After a few weeks and more data, the rankings will start to even out.
Auburn has already beaten two better teams than the Colonels handily, so this game shouldn’t be close. I’ll take Auburn 95 EKU 70.
How to Watch, Stream, Listen
Time: 8:00pm Central
TV: SEC Network
Listen: Auburn Sports Network