Aubserver Mailbag 68: These Guys Are Good
This week: Adding another Pearl Era star to this team, Allen Flanigan, the Full House lineup, tournament projections, liquids and Orange Cassidy
PF Jabari Smith (Matthew Shannon/Auburn Athletics)
As this final week of the regular season comes to a close, Auburn basketball has already claimed an SEC championship banner. A win over South Carolina on Saturday would ensure no one else gets one of those in 2022. The Tigers are in a spot that only the 1999 team has ever been in when it comes to program history.
And yet, it’s not totally good vibes inside the fan base.
Yes, Auburn hasn’t played great basketball away from home — and it blew a 19-point lead at Mississippi State to nearly lose its fourth straight road game. The Tigers aren’t consistent in their half-court offense, which is something that a lot of teams are dealing with right now, and the recent rebounding numbers are a major cause for concern.
But, again: Auburn basketball has won an SEC championship. That hasn’t been said many times before, especially in the modern era, and this roster filled with newcomers was picked to finish fifth in the league just a few months ago.
Auburn has flaws. So does every other contender in college basketball. Things might go south in the postseason, but that doesn’t change the fact that this team has already made history and is in just as good of a position as any other team to make a run in March.
This week’s mailbag tackles a lot of topics about Bruce Pearl’s Tigers, from lineup tweaks and postseason projections to a lot of K.D. Johnson hypothetical situations. I didn’t have room to get to everyone’s questions this week, but thank you once again for continuing to flood the inbox and Twitter replies.
The next time we mailbag, Auburn will be firmly in the Madness. Let’s go.
For a team this good, there is a lot of angst. Please remind people how good this team is. If you only had to pick 2-3 stats or facts to show someone how great this team is, what would you choose?
Auburn has won 86.7% of its games this season. That is tied with Duke for fifth-best in Division I and second-best among teams that play in power conferences, with Arizona (89.7%) being the only one ahead. According to CBB Reference, Auburn has had the 24th-toughest schedule in college basketball this season. No other team in the top 10 of winning percentage this season ranks in the top 25 in strength of schedule, and Baylor (No. 12 in winning percentage, No. 21 in SOS) is the closest. Baylor could get the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament. It also lost to Alabama, who Auburn beat twice.
The SEC currently has five top-20 teams in KenPom, T-Rank and other predictive ratings system. No other conference has more top-20 teams. Auburn won that conference’s regular-season title and could take it outright with a victory on Saturday.
Auburn is currently rated in the top 20 nationally on KenPom in adjusted offensive and defensive efficiency. Only two other teams in Auburn basketball history have ranked inside the top 40 on both ends of the floor. One was the Final Four team in 2019. The other was the legendary 1999 squad.
If you could replace one starter on this team with another player from the Pearl era, who would it be?
If you could add one player from any of Bruce Pearl’s Auburn teams to this roster to create the perfect team, who would you choose and why?
If you can add one player from the Bruce Pearl era to this year's Auburn team right now, who do you pick and why? (You get them at the height of their powers for whatever season you are choosing)
Did y’all coordinate this week or something? This is a fun question that I’ve probably addressed before, but it’s good to revisit with the postseason looming.
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to The Auburn Observer to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.