Brian has Auburn as a two-seed and depending how things play out, a 1-seed isn’t out of reach. They’re 20-2 but what’s most impressive about that has been how they’ve gotten to that record. Their win by 9 at Mississippi State last night was the first time they hadn’t won a league game by double digits. The Tigers only league loss was on the road at Alabama, hardly a bad loss. They don’t have a great non-conference win. Their best win is against Middle Tennessee as their thumping of UConn doesn’t carry much weight in 2018.
Auburn lost two guys in Danjel Purifoy and Austin Wiley before the season started. Both sophomores were expected to be key contributors. Junior guard Bryce Brown and sophomore guard Jared Harper have been very efficient players while sophomore Mustapha Heron is probably their best player. Heron is second on the in scoring and rebounding. Though a high volume shooter, he is still quite efficient. Junior Desean Murray is an undersized frontcourt player but really good rebounder. At 6’3”, he’s one of the nations top offensive rebounders. 6’ 8” Chuma Okeke is probably one of the best freshman you don’t know. An efficient scorer and very rebounder, he’s a name to remember.
Auburn does so many good things on offense. They’re a 52.7% effective fg% team and 15th in the nation in offensive rebounding %. No one getting regular minutes stands over 6’8”. They also get to the line and protect the ball well above the national average. They shoot 38% from deep and 78% at the line. It’s easy to see why they’re the 12th most efficient offense in the nation.
The defense isn’t as good but 27th in efficiency is still damn good. Teams only have an effective fg% of 47.2. That’s 42nd in the nation. Somehow, they have the 2nd best block % in the nation. They’re weakest at fouling, putting teams on the line too much. They’re 274th in FTA/FGA. They’re also just average at defensive rebounding. The last two numbers are a concern but ultimately, effective fg% probably trumps those concerns.
The hardest remaining game on the schedule is a trip to Gainesville and even in that one, they’re slight favorites. Basically, if we trust the numbers, it’s entirely possible they don’t lose again in the regular season. I hate to say it, but Bruce Pearl should probably be the coach of the year. My largest area of concern will be attrition as they get as little out of their bench as just about any team. They’re 303rd in bench minutes. Of course, if they keep blowing teams out, that would help immensely. This is a legit squad in 2018.