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What Are Auburn’s Chances to Make Back-to-Back NCAA Tournament Appearances?

By on February 18th, 2019 in Basketball, News 6 Comments »

Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl plans to take he Tigers back to the NCAA Tournament (photo:USA TODAY Sports)

The Vanderbilt basketball team is winless in SEC play, yet Auburn’s 64–53 basketball victory Saturday may have been the most important game of the year for the Tigers. Reeling from an unexpected loss to Ole Miss at home made Auburn’s game in Memorial Gymnasium a must win.

And not because it was a road win or because it was the Tigers’ first win in Nashville in 20 years. No, the reason the game was crucial was because of the impact a loss would have on Auburn’s postseason resume. Had the Tigers dropped the contest, it would have seriously hurt their standing with the selection committee for the NCAA Tournament.

Although the victory was sweet it leaves us with some concerns about a recently sluggish offense. The Tigers shot only 34.7% for the game—the second-lowest offensive production of the season. Most see Auburn’s strength as shooting the three-shot. And when the three’s are falling the Tigers are a tough team to beat, but when they are not, they become average. But those 3-point shots don’t open up if they can’t score inside.

So how did they get the win? “We had great effort and energy defensively, and I thought that was a real key for us,” said coach Pearl. “The communication in the huddle was about winning. It was about getting stops. It was about executing. They came here to win, and we made some progress.

It was the Tigers’ second road win this season, improving their record to 17–8 and 6–6 in SEC play and giving them momentum as they head down the final stretch.

It just goes to show what a good coach can do, when one area of a team’s game is off, to make adjustments and get a win. The real strength of Auburn’s basketball team is not the 3-shot, it’s the coach.

Pearl’s taken some heat lately for some of Auburn’s losses, but after an up and down season he has this team in a good position to become only the third team in the last three decades to go to back-to-back NCAA Tournaments. With six SEC games left in the regular season, my money is on Bruce Pearl.


  1. BirminghamEagle says:

    Auburn is 17-8 not 18-7. and I think they would need to have a 20 win season for a repeat trip to the NCAA. I want to see them go to the Tourney but I’m not so sure. Auburn probably won’t beat Tennessee or Kentucky either (in Rupp Arena). So that leaves 4 games to maybe win 3 and get to a 20 win season. Can they do it? I don’t know but they will have to play better than they have the last two games.

    • AubTigerman AubTigerman says:

      Thanks Birmingham. I've made the edits to reflect the correct season record.

    • WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

      Twenty wins is not as important as being .500 in the SEC. The NCAA doesn't put a team in the tournament that's not at least a .500 in their conference. Then if they have a couple good wins during the season they should be a shoe in.

  2. AtkinsonTiger AtkinsonTiger says:

    Agree Bruce Pearl is a good coach. I can’t understand how some fans start talking about how the coach is lacking whenever a couple of losses happen.

    Auburn is one of five SEC teams with a 6-6 conference record. A lot will be determined in the last 6 games. Hoping Auburn will be at the top of that log jam when it’s all over.

    • WarSamEagle WarSamEagle says:

      I think Auburn will be okay if Bruce keeps making the proper adjustments to win each game as he did with getting the defense to focus on making stops and getting the ball back i.e. defense. That and free throws is what beat Vandy.

  3. audad says:

    Absolute must wins are the home games against Ark. and Miss. State. Then they have to win at least one of the three road games at GA, Alabama, or KY. Or somehow pull off an upset at home against TN. Would agree that three more conf wins will get them in for sure. Less than three and I’m not so sure, unless they would come up huge in the SEC tourney.