Aubserver Mailbag 112: Here are all of Auburn's NCAA Tournament scenarios
This week: Dunks, #FoulUp3, aggressive defense, the basketball multiverse, position battles, defensive nicknames and Furnace Fest
SF Allen Flanigan (Zach Bland/Auburn Athletics)
We’re going to keep the intro to this week’s mailbag short and sweet, because there’s a whole lot to get to in what is a very busy time of year around here.
I’m headed to Lexington this weekend for Auburn’s big matchup at Kentucky, which will be my first trip to Rupp Arena. I’m very much looking forward to covering a game at one of college basketball’s most famous venues.
It’s another huge opportunity for an Auburn team that’s trying to get over the hump and put it all together at the most important time of the season. And it’s one of several, as the run-in to close the campaign is a sequence of the biggest brand name in the SEC, Auburn’s top rival that is also the SEC title favorite, and then the closest competition to the Tigers’ reign as the best team in the league over the last five years.
Can’t ask for a bigger stage, especially when you’re still trying to punch your ticket to the Big Dance.
And soon after I return from Lexington this weekend, it’ll be spring football time in Auburn. Time flies when you’re having fun with the Inner Circle, huh?
Thanks as always for sending in your questions and continuing to support The Auburn Observer. I wasn’t able to get to all of them this week — there’s a fun SEC football programs as Marvel villains one that I want to revisit later — but we knocked out a bunch of great ones here on both basketball and football.
What losses would cost us getting into the Big Dance?
Well, losing to Ole Miss would have been a real killer, that’s for sure.
But now Auburn has three games left to play in the regular season — at Kentucky, at Alabama and the home finale against Tennessee. All three are Quadrant 1 games.
And, right now, it looks like Auburn just needs to win one of them in order to lock down a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Let’s head over to T-Rank, which has a fun “Teamcast” tool that lets you project a team’s bracketology based on what happens the rest of the season. Here are all the scenarios for Auburn in these final three games:
Win Out: 98.9% chance of bid, projected No. 5 seed
Go 2-1 (beat UK and UA): 97.6% chance of bid, projected No. 6 seed
Go 2-1 (beat UA and UT): 97.5% chance of bid, projected No. 7 seed
Go 2-1 (beat UK and UT): 97.0% chance of bid, projected No. 7 seed
Go 1-2 (beat UA): 90.7% chance of bid, projected No. 9 seed
Go 1-2 (beat UT): 89.3% chance of bid, projected No. 9 seed
Go 1-2 (beat UK): 87.5% chance of bid, projected No. 9 seed
Lose Out: 58.5% chance of bid, projected Last Four In
Seems pretty simple, right? Win one, and you’re in. Win two, and you’ve got a good chance to be a favorite in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Win three, and you’ve got a chance to be in a really good spot as a red-hot team.
Lose all three, and you’ll probably be sweating it out on Selection Sunday.
Now, what about the SEC Tournament? Well, that’s tougher to project, because we don’t know who Auburn would play there. Still, conference tournaments usually don’t matter a ton in terms of seeding, as the Selection Committee has a tendency to not overreact so much to them that it underreacts. (Look at Texas A&M last season.)
Also, consider the fact that Auburn’s seeding really didn’t change in 2018, 2019 or 2022 based on what happened in the SEC Tournament. Unless you knock off multiple Quad 1 wins, you’re probably staying put. And Auburn would most likely not get that opportunity unless it wins multiple games in Nashville.
So a loss in each one of Auburn’s next three games, individually, won’t keep the Tigers from going to the NCAA Tournament. But if you lose all three, you’re probably going to need to make some noise in the SEC Tournament to feel good about your chances at getting in the Field of 68.
It all comes down to the next eight or so days, then the bonus opportunities of the SEC tournament. Buckle up.
1. What's the best/most impressive in-game dunk you've seen from an Auburn player during your time covering the team?
2. How happy were you that Auburn fouled up three against Ole Miss?
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