In a week where Auburn hosted College Gameday - yes, for basketball - for the first time ever, and where Auburn beat blue-blood Kentucky for the third time in four tries in Auburn Arena, and where Auburn went to Bud Walton Arena and won for just the fifth time ever... Auburn fans are unanimously in favor of the direction Bruce Pearl is taking the Tigers.
Whoda thunk it?
With Auburn sitting at 20-2, the team is all but a lock to make it’s third straight NCAA Tournament. That would be a first since the 80’s. Auburn also has an opportunity to take hold of 1st place in the SEC this weekend with LSU in town. It won’t be easy, but the way Bruce Pearl’s teams have played at home the last three years has shown that Auburn should probably be the favorite any time they’re on their home court.
Here’s to two more wins and another 100% vote next week!
Unfortunately, when you go to a Final Four, you don’t get to be a pleasant surprise the next year. In what I think was the slimmest margin in the national question we’ve had yet, San Diego State took the honors this week. The Aztecs sit at 23-0 with, according to KenPom, a 43% chance of going unbeaten in the regular season. That’s not totally unheard of, as Kentucky pulled this of in 2015 and Wichita State in 2015, but it has only happened three times total since 2000 and 28 times ever. I’d like to see the Aztecs get it done.
Three of the other four schools - Baylor, Dayton, and FSU - have all had some success in the last few years, particularly in just making the tournament. Rutgers, well... Rutgers basketball is more destitute than Rutgers football. Honestly, they’ve been worse than Auburn basketball pre-Pearl. Rutgers hasn’t been to any postseason tournament since 2006, when it lost to St. Joseph’s in the second round. Rutgers hasn’t made it to the NCAA Tournament since 1991, when it was in the A-10. Rutgers hasn’t made it past the first round since 1983. Rutgers hasn’t finished ranked since 1979, when it finished 18th and was in the EAA (Eastern Athletic Conference, a sort of proto-Big East with West Virginia, Villanova, Pitt, Duquesne, and others). Just making the NCAA Tournament this year would be a groundbreaking achievement. Fingers crossed for the Scarlet Knights.