Midweek Ramblings From The Plains—Respecting Auburn Basketball Edition
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Has there ever been a major conference basketball champion more disrespected than the Auburn Tigers? The selection committee had the winners of the SEC Tournament travel to Salt Lake City, further than any other league champion, to play in a region loaded with blueblood programs. After playing four days in the SEC Tournament, the Tigers were given the earliest possible tipoff.
Yet, in the span of 14 days the Tigers blew out Tennessee, Kansas, and North Carolina and then defeated Kentucky in overtime (without their best player) to win the Midwest Region and advance to the Final Four.
Adding insult to injury, this team of giant killers failed to have even one guy named All-American. Not even Bryce Brown or Jared Harper, the MVP of the Midwest Region, were on the first team, second team or listed under honorable mention. How does that happen?
Moving forward, the Tigers may be facing their biggest challenge to date when they take on Virginia (33–3) Saturday in Minneapolis. It has to be the toughest match-up so far for Auburn (30–9). The Cavs have one of the best defenses in the nation, play a fast-paced game, and have suffered only 3 losses all year.
Can the Tigers play with the same intensity as they did during their 12-game winning streak without Chuma Okeke in the lineup? Can they pull off another big win on basketball’s biggest stage? Many have already written off their chances. However, so did the “experts” in the SEC Tourney and then in the Midwest Regional. And look how those turned out.
The excitement over the basketball team’s postseason success has overshadowed news of other sports usually covered this time of year. Most noteably Auburn football is in the middle of spring practice. As expected, the main focus this year is at the vacant quarterback position. Many in the press had already anointed incoming freshman Bo Nix to be the starter. However, news coming from the Plains is that Nix is in a tight race with red shirt freshman Joey Gatewood. Don’t expect Coach Malzahn to make an announcement before August, if then.
The good news so far is that running back Jatarvious ‘Boobee’ Whitlow is back at full speed after being limited in 2018 with a shoulder injury.
The Auburn baseball team completed an eight-game road trip and returned home this week for a four game home stand at Plainsman Park. The Tigers are 22–7 and begin a three-game series against Arkansas Thursday. First pitch will be at 6:30 CT.
The No. 1 Auburn Equestrian team has won another title. The Tigers beat Texas A&M 11–6 over the weekend to win the program’s second Southeastern Conference Championship. The Tigers are now 15–0 on the season and are on pace to repeat as national champions.
Returning to basketball news. If you’re like me and wanted to attend the game but couldn’t make the trip to the land of the tundra, the university is hosting a watch party in the Auburn Arena Saturday. The CBS broadcast will be shown on the video board. Seating will be on a first-come, first-served basis with doors opening at 3:00 p.m. CT. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:09 CT.
So if you’re in the Auburn area, why not come to the Arena. After all, there’s no better place to watch the game than with thousands of your best friends wearing orange and blue.
Until next time, War Eagle and …