Auburn’s Path to a National Championship
What a season it’s been for our Tigers.
We’ve seen this team start by winning 21 of the first 23 games played.
We have constantly heard “best team since….”
We’ve had emotional highs and lows.
We’ve seen this team win more this season than any other this millennium.
and still people don’t believe in the Tigers, so I’m here to set the record straight and explain how Auburn can win the National Championship. Last year, I wrote about 1 reason why Seeds 1-8 will win/lose in the NCAA Tournament. Since Auburn is in the field this year, no other teams matter. I’ll breakdown Auburn’s toughest match-ups. This will all be based on the higher seed winning, because lets face it, if the higher seed wins, Auburn’s path gets easier.
ROUND 1: (13) College of Charleston
RPI – 60
PPG – 75.1
oPPG – 68.8
This is an undersized team with 1 starter at 6-10. This team is tough defensively and a solid free throw team. To win, Auburn needs to have solid ball movement and get in a rhythm offensively. Jared Harper needs to focus on distributing the ball and getting back to playing like the SEC Player of the Year that he was denied.
ROUND 2: (5) Clemson
RPI – 10
PPG – 73.3
oPPG – 65.8
Both of these teams are very good defensively. However, it is New Mexico State that scares me more offensively. Clemson matches up poorly with Auburn because they’re poor at defending the 3-ball. Auburn will need to be able to drive the lane and have a solid day at the charity stripe.
Sweet 16: (1) Kansas
RPI – 6
PPG – 81.5
oPPG – 70.9
Kansas is hot right now. They won their record 14th straight Big 12 Championship in what was supposed to be a down year. This team matches up will for Auburn. They have 1 real inside force (Udoka Azubuike) that is prone to fouls and shoots free throws as well as Shaq. This team runs through Devonte’ Graham and Svi Mykhailuk – 2 seniors that have strong range. Auburn needs to run this team with a ton of press and a high pace of play to pull off this victory.
Elite Eight: (2) Duke
PPG – 84.7
oPPG – 69.6
Auburn will have to be firing on all cylinders if they don’t want to be tripped up by Greyson Allen and the Duke Blue Devils. Duke is tall and have a dynamic freshman in Marvin Bagley III. For Auburn to win, they have to avoid a half court game where Duke dumps it over the top and draws fouls. If Auburn can spread the floor and cause turnovers, they can walk their way into the Final Four.
Final Four: (1) Villanova
RPI – 2
PPG – 87.1
oPPG – 70.9
The Wildcats have had a lot of success in the tournament recently, including a National Championship 2 years ago. Lead by Jalen Brunson, this team has a highly efficient offense, obviously they must since they score 87 PPG. For Auburn to win, they need to keep it close, and make their fouls shots. Villanova doesn’t have an expansive body of work at the free throw line this season.
CHAMPIONSHIP: (1) Virginia
RPI – 1
PPG – 67.5
oPPG – 53.4
Virginia has had a dream season from starting the season unranked to being the number 1 seed in the tournament. This team suffocates you defensively. They are formidable offensively, but they win because they make you uncomfortable defensively. I don’t believe Auburn would need a stellar game offensively, they would just need excellent execution.
As you can see, there is a theme with what Auburn needs to do. Do what you did to get you here. Lean on each other, and do your job. Auburn has an exciting month ahead of them. I, for one, am excited to see this team reap the benefits of a strong season. WAR EAGLE