(12) New Mexico State v. (5) Auburn
Time: 12:30 PM CT (TNT)
Spread: AUB -6
Odds c/o 5dimes
The Auburn Tigers finished the season 26-9 and in fourth place in the SEC where it had an 11-7 record and finished with an SEC Final victory over Tennessee to win the Conference. The Tigers outscored Tennessee then-No. 8 ranked 52-41 in the second half as Chuma Okeke and Bryce Brown combined for 37 points on 12 of 24 combined shooting. Okeke had 13 rebounds, six of which were on the offensive end and he also had three steals and a block. The Tigers bench produced 30 points, as well, pace by Danjel Purifoy who had 10 points in 10 minutes on 4 of 5 shooting, along with two boards and two steals.
Auburn finished its season by winning eight consecutive games, including wins over Tennessee twice, an 84-80 win and a 84-64 trouncing in the SEC title game. Auburn should be a sneaky pick to make a run in this tournament if only considering how hot the Tigers have been. Auburn also had a +11.2 point differential as it averaged nearly 80 points per game this season while holding opponents to just 68.2.
Brown led the team in scoring this year at 15.8 points per game while shooting 40.4 percent from behind the arc. Jared Harper ranked No. 2 in scoring at 15.2 points per game while leading the team in assists (5.8) and free throw percentage (82.3). Okeke led the team in rebounds per game (6.8), ranked No 3 in scoring at 11.7 points per game, and he also averages 2.9 steals/blocks while playing 29 minutes per contest.
The Tigers have 10 players averaging 11 minutes per game or better and that depth should serve it well in keeping its starters fresher for later in the tournament, but this will be no small task defeating No. 12 seeded New Mexico State, even as 6-point favorites in the game. Auburn attempted 1,012 threes this season while shooting 37.6 percent as a team, and it also came up with 316 steals as a team while limiting its turnovers to 11.91 per game.
New Mexico State finished the season with a 30-4 record and a 15-1 record in WAC play. It won the WAC Final 89-57 over Grand Canyon, as it got 27 points from Queen. Queen averaged just 7.5 points per game this season, but he had 27 in that game and 19 in a 75-63 win over CBU on Mar. 9. Terrell Brown leads the team in scoring at just 11.3 points per game, though New Mexico can put up numbers and averages 78.1 points per game as a team. It has eight players averaging five points per game or better and uses a 12-man rotation for the most part with all rostered players having at least a small role.
AJ Harris led the team in minutes at just 25.4 per game, while ranking No. 3 in the team in scoring at 9.6 points per game. New Mexico shoots just 33.5 percent from three as a team and worse still is a horrid 67.5 percent team free throw percentage. The Aggies have a few fatal flaws that should render it an unsuccessful 12 over 5 attempts, and the lack of one major explosive scorer, along with the poor free throw shooting should spell its demise in a close game, or otherwise.
ATS TRENDS (C/O Covers.com):
|New Mexico St.|