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NEW POLL ALERT: Auburn Back in the Rankings

Guess who’s back, back again.

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Hey, guess what.

Auburn’s ranked again.

That’s what happens when you beat a top five team to finish the SEC season at 11-7 and earn the 5 seed in Nashville for this week’s SEC Tournament. Auburn’s 84-80 victory over Tennessee (along with four straight wins overall) helped to push the Tigers back into the rankings for the first time since January 21st. At that time, Auburn was just coming off of the close home loss to Kentucky, and followed it up with an 0-2 week with losses at South Carolina and Mississippi State.

Since that three-game losing streak, Auburn’s made a complete turnaround, winning 9 of 12 games. It’s a stark contrast to this time last season, when the Tigers won the SEC regular season championship, but did it while limping to the finish. They hit Nashville for the SEC Tournament as the top overall seed, but got drubbed by Alabama in the first game, and then fizzled out in the NCAA Tournament the next week.

Now, Auburn’s playing its best basketball. The turnaround has been characterized by an energy from Chuma Okeke, who took over this past week on the court, and a tendency to win games as of late even when the bread and butter’s not working. Auburn didn’t shoot the three all that well and didn’t rebound well at all over the past couple of weeks, but still went 4-0.

Here’s the new top ten, and the other SEC teams in the poll:

  1. Gonzaga
  2. Virginia
  3. North Carolina
  4. Kentucky
  5. Duke
  6. Michigan State
  7. Texas Tech
  8. Tennessee
  9. LSU
  10. Michigan

That’s three SEC teams in the top ten, and Auburn’s the only other conference team in the rankings, although Mississippi State’s receiving votes.

This week, the Tigers will take on the winner of the Georgia/Missouri matchup in their first outing at the SEC Tournament, and then will face South Carolina with a win in game one. Top seed LSU awaits after that if Auburn goes 2-0 to start, but with the Will Wade drama going on now, LSU may not be quite as good as they were all year long. It’s going to be an interesting week, but it’s just good to see that number back by Auburn’s name. War Eagle!