Auburn begins play at the SEC Tournament in Tampa tomorrow. The Tigers will take on either Florida or Texas A&M, with the game between the Gators and Aggies coming first off the block today at 11 AM CST. With a schedule of possible opponents being the Gators, Arkansas, and Tennessee, Auburn could have a revenge tour of sorts as they vie for a conference tournament title in addition to their outright regular season championship.
Now, unlike the vast wasteland of Auburn basketball for most of this millennium, a berth in the NCAA Tournament in 2022 is guaranteed. Auburn will at worst be a 2-seed, and could still end up as a 1-seed depending on what happens in Tampa and around the rest of the country. Let’s see how the Tigers sit at the moment according to the different resident experts:
ESPN BRACKETOLOGY (Joe Lunardi)
Auburn’s currently a 2-seed in the Midwest Region according to the guy most known for his tournament projections. In this scenario, Gonzaga has already wrapped up the top overall seed with their WCC Tournament championship, and the other 1-seeds are Baylor, Kansas, and Arizona. The Tigers’ first game would come against Delaware in the 2-15 matchup. Should Auburn win, the Tigers would meet the winner of the 7-10 game between Marquette and San Diego State.
Auburn would be in the bracket with Arizona, where the Regional Final would be held in Chicago. That’s obviously a better draw for Tiger fans that Wildcat fans, but if Auburn can win the SEC Tournament, they’d probably take over a 1-seed from whichever Big 12 team doesn’t win in Kansas City (assuming Arizona wins the PAC-12 Tournament).
That’s the thought process of Jerry Palm, who’s already got Auburn on the 1-line instead of Kansas. In his scenario, the Tigers are the 1-seed in the Midwest, with the Jayhawks sitting as the 2-seed. His other 1-seeds are Gonzaga (West), Arizona (South), and Baylor (East), with Duke, Purdue, and Kentucky also in the mix as the 2-seeds in those regions.
In Palm’s projection, Auburn’s first game would come against a 16-seed from a play-in game. He’s got Alcorn State vs Wright State in one of the First Four matchups, with the winner taking on Auburn.
The 8-9 game would have TCU against Marquette, with the winner taking on Auburn in the Round of 32.
USA TODAY BRACKETOLOGY (Shelby Mast/Scott Gleeson)
Auburn’s in a similar projection according to USA Today as well. The Tigers are a 1-seed in the East Region, with the other 1-seeds being Gonzaga (West), Baylor (South), and Arizona (Midwest). In this bracket, the Tigers again have the opportunity to meet a First Four opponent, with the winner coming between Alcorn State and Nicholls.
Should Auburn avoid doing a Virginia, then they’d play the winner of the Murray State/Seton Hall 8-9 affair. I know we’d love to see Murray State again for fun, but maybe not so early in the tournament when they’ve been fantastic since playing Auburn earlier in the year.
NCAA.COM BRACKETOLOGY (Andy Katz)
Andy’s not as peckish on the Tigers as others are, with his projections sending Auburn to the 2-line in the Midwest Region with Arizona. He’s assuming the same quad of 1-seeds as Lunardi, with Gonzaga (West), Kansas (East), Arizona (Midwest), and Baylor (South). Auburn would likely have the opportunity to hop to a 1-seed if they won the SEC Tournament, otherwise, their first matchup in this universe is a 2-15 game against Longwood.
If Auburn wins that, they’d get the winner of the 7-10 game between Seton Hall and Wake Forest. Other 2-seeds in this bracket are Villanova, Kentucky, and Wisconsin.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Auburn is about a 50/50 contender for their first 1-seed since 1999, but there seems to be some work left to do. If the Tigers win the SEC Tournament, they’re all but guaranteed to take over a 1-seed for the first time in 23 years. Fortunately, the furthest that the Tigers would likely fall is the 2-line, and it just depends on which region they’d end up in depending on how far they went in Tampa, short of total victory. The one thing that every bracketologist agrees on is that Auburn will begin the NCAA Tournament playing in Greenville, SC. That would be a fun venue, especially because you’d also get tickets to see Coach K get bounced by Jacksonville State in his final game.
Auburn begins its final push for a 1-seed tomorrow at noon Eastern in Tampa, as they play the winner of the Texas A&M/Florida matchup that tips off shortly at Amalie Arena!