NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WIAT) — After finishing the regular season at 20-11 overall, Auburn will face Arkansas at 6 p.m. Thursday in the second round of the 2023 SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament.
With a 10-8 SEC record, Auburn is the No. 7 seed in the conference tournament. The Tigers downed then-No. 12 Tennessee, 79-70, in their regular-season finale on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Razorbacks are the No. 10 seed after compiling an 8-10 SEC mark. They’re 19-12 overall. The winner of the contest will face No. 2 seed Texas A&M in the quarterfinals Friday.
Below is what to look out for in the game from Auburn:
Managing a tough opponent
The Razorbacks finished the regular season in the bottom-half of the SEC but are No. 18 in the NET rankings. Those rankings take into account team value index, net efficiency, winning percentage and adjusted win percentage.
When Auburn and Arkansas met Jan. 7, the Tigers won, 72-59, in Neville Arena. Guards Wendell Green Jr. and Allen Flanigan paced the Tigers with 19 and 18 points, respectively. Johni Broome, a center, notched a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
In the past five games, the Tigers have found their stride from downtown, as they’ve made 39.4% of their shots from beyond the arc. Guard K.D. Johnson has hit 8-of-14 3-pointers in that span.
Though the Tigers are now succeeding with their 3-point shots, that hasn’t been the case all season, as their 31.4 3-point percentage ranks 12th in the conference. Auburn went 7-of-21 from downtown in its last meeting against Arkansas.
Building NCAA Tournament standing
The Tigers are expected to make the NCAA Tournament as an at-large team but want to improve their resume. ESPN lists Auburn as a No. 9 seed playing in Sacramento against No. 8 seed Florida Atlantic in the West Region. CBS Sports, however, sees the Tigers starting the tournament in Birmingham as a No. 8 seed versus No. 9 seed Iowa in the Midwest Region.
Last season, the Tigers were the No. 2 seed in the Midwest Region and were knocked out in the second round by No. 10 seed Miami. Auburn most recently made the Final Four in 2019 after winning the Midwest Region as a No. 5 seed.
- Spread: ARK -3.5
- O/U: 143.5
- Moneyline: ARK (-170), AU (+143)