It's Selection Sunday. Here's where Auburn will most likely land in the field.
While there are a few games left before the Field of 68 is set, the Tigers should feel fairly comfortable of their seed and where they're going.
(Jacob Taylor/Auburn Athletics)
According to the great Ken Pomeroy, 5,832 games have already been played during this Division I men’s college basketball season.
On Sunday, there will be five more — Yale-Princeton, Texas A&M-Tennessee, Richmond-Davidson, Memphis-Houston and Iowa-Purdue — before the NCAA Selection Committee reveals the bracket for this year’s tournament.
That means, heading into the most marquee day of the calendar for the sport, 99.914% of the season’s games have already been played. Only 2.793% of the teams in Division I are even in action on Selection Sunday. The vast majority of the committee’s work is complete.
For Auburn, the résumé for itself and the majority of teams it’s close to in the national seeding picture is finalized. There’s only a little bit of wiggle room for anybody at this point.
Auburn missed an opportunity to land a No. 1 seed this weekend when it lost by five points to Texas A&M in the quarterfinal of the SEC Tournament.
In hindsight, the stage was set for the Tigers to take advantage — Baylor exited the Big 12 Tournament early with a quarterfinal loss to Oklahoma, while Duke and Kentucky were both unable to win the conference tournaments that could have landed their last-second pushes for the top line.
After the conference tournament finals — headlined by Arizona’s eight-point Pac-12 title win over UCLA — ended in the late hours Saturday night, there was a general consensus among bracket projections for the four No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
Arizona locked up its No. 1 spot with its sweep of the Pac-12 title. Gonzaga has been the near-universal No. 1 overall seed for a while now. Kansas did what it needed to do over the weekend to snatch a No. 1 over the likes of Auburn and others by running through the Big 12 Tournament. And Baylor’s early exit appears that it won’t do that much damage, considering the weekend losses by Auburn, Kentucky, Duke and others.
Where does that leave Auburn? Some fans questioned whether the Tigers would fall down to the No. 3 line after the loss to Texas A&M on Friday. But the Selection Committee usually doesn’t overreact that much to just one loss — there’s an entire season of work to consider — and the loss to the Aggies doesn’t look quite as damaging, now that they beat Arkansas by 18 in the semifinals on Saturday.
Texas A&M wasn’t able to jump up to an all-important Quadrant 1 matchup after its thrilling overtime win over Florida on Thursday, and it entered Saturday as the No. 51 team in the NCAA’s NET rankings. That’s just one spot away from Auburn’s quarterfinal being considered a Quadrant 1 game.
The NET rankings, along with the majority of projections on Bracket Matrix, were not refreshed by the time this newsletter was written in the early hours of Sunday morning. (Note: Watching a Daylight Saving Time change happen on your computer screen is pretty wild.) But it’s safe to assume that Auburn’s game against Texas A&M will now be considered Quadrant 1.
That’s important for Auburn, as it will remain unbeaten in games from Quadrants 2, 3 and 4. Its Quadrant 1 record will bump down to 8-5, which is a winning percentage of 61.5%.
If Gonzaga, Arizona and Kansas are virtually locked in as No. 1 seeds, there’s a large number of teams who have legitimate claims to be No. 2 seeds — including Baylor, which is most likely staying put as the fourth overall seed.
How does Auburn compare to the rest of the field, which has a couple of potential teams in play Sunday in Tennessee and Purdue? Let’s go back to the team sheets and the most important criteria for the committee from our pre-SEC Tournament newsletter.
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