You’d think that going 1-1 without your best player would make some voters think twice about dropping you in the polls, especially when nearly everyone else in the top fifteen lost this past week as well.
You would be wrong.
Auburn fell two spots in the AP Poll to 10th, after losing to Texas A&M 81-80 and beating Georgia 78-61 this past week. In the coaches’ poll, the Tigers fell from 9th to 11th.
The rest of the top ten didn’t do all that well this past week, with several teams (including the entire top three) losing at some point. Villanova lost at home to St. John’s (a previously winless team in the Big East), Virginia got got at home by Virginia Tech in overtime, and Purdue lost on the road in the final seconds to #4 Michigan State (about as good of a loss as you can get).
Meanwhile, Duke lost at North Carolina, Kansas lost at Baylor, and our guys lost at home to Texas A&M. That’s six of the top ten falling at some point last week. Just outside of the top ten, Saint Mary’s lost to Gonzaga, Arizona lost to UCLA, and Tennessee got crushed by Alabama.
We’re all aware that Auburn got pegged as the top 2-seed by the selection committee’s early bracket reveal of the top 16 seeds, and the Tigers would be playing in the same region as Xavier, with Clemson and Oklahoma as the 3 and 4-seeds. Who knows if the committee posted Auburn ahead of Duke and Kansas for conversation purposes, or if that’s an accurate representation of where they believe the Tigers should be.
The next couple of weeks will be exceedingly crucial for Bruce Pearl’s guys, starting with a midweek matchup at home against Kentucky this Wednesday. If Auburn can get four more wins out of the final six SEC games, they’ll be all but assured of a regular season title and the top overall seed. Hit 14 wins, and the only teams that can catch you are Tennessee (who would lose the tiebreaker), and Florida (who would need to win out, including a win over Auburn).
Can you imagine the first two days of the SEC Tournament without Auburn playing? It’s been quite some time since the Tigers weren’t one of the first four and stuck playing on Wednesday night. I’m excited, and I know you all are too. War Eagle!