Raise your hand if you expected any of this before the season began.
Auburn’s a top ten team (#8 AP, #9 Coaches), and that only means that the landing spot in the various bracket projections will continue to sweeten. After coming in at mostly 2-seed predictions last week, we’ve seen a couple of experts start to boost the Tigers’ postseason power.
Jerry Palm’s latest concoction has Auburn as the 2-seed in the South Region. The Tigers would be paired up against Wright State in the 2-15 matchup, and the winner would face either Creighton or Louisville. In fact, Auburn would have a fairly easy road to the Sweet Sixteen, but a likely fight against 3-seed Michigan State would be tough.
Looking at Joe Lunardi, he and Palm are mostly in agreement, as he’s got the Tigers again the 2-seed out of the South. They’ve even pitched Auburn against 15-seed Wright State in the opening round, with a possible game against Creighton or Middle Tennessee (who Auburn’s already beaten) coming in the Round of 32. If Auburn made the Sweet Sixteen here, they’d like take on Cincinnati, who’s just as hot as the Tigers are at the current moment.
Now, here’s where you might need to strap yourself in. USA Today comes off the top rope with their projection, which has Auburn as — drum roll — the 1-seed in the West Region. In this bracket, the Tigers edge either Duke or Kansas as the final 1-seed after Villanova, Virginia, and Purdue. Auburn’s road wouldn’t be that difficult, with an opener against Florida Gulf Coast (don’t worry, they’re not the team that beat Georgetown), and then a Round of 32 game against either Arizona State or TCU. After that, it may a battle against Arizona, which would be tough because of their huge size.
And finally, the mothership agrees with the first two guys and places Auburn as the 2-seed out of the South Region (again playing Wright State to open the tournament). Once more, the Tigers will be in the same bracket with 1-seed Virginia, and with a win over Wright State to open, Auburn would be subject to a game with either Florida State or Washington (both would be tough). After that, 3-seed Texas Tech looks like the most certain Sweet Sixteen opponent.
There you go, the more Auburn wins, the more certain a 2-seed is in the tournament. If they keep winning at this clip, however, you may see more and more people start to join USA Today in their projections and bump the Tigers to a 1-seed. If Auburn wins the SEC regular season crown and the SEC Tournament, then they’ll be in prime position for a top seed for the first time in 19 years.