Believe it or not, Auburn has one of the hottest basketball teams in all of the country currently. The team is currently 9-0 in the month of March and are riding a ten-game winning streak. This team was one that the Auburn faithful had high hopes for early on; and with the lull in the middle of the season occurring, the fans began to feel as if this season would ultimately be a waste. Fast forward to now, and these same guys seem as if they cannot lose. Expected to only win a couple of games in the SEC Tournament, the Tigers outdo their fans expectations by winning it all and dominating a very talented Tennessee team. Auburn’s head coach, Bruce Pearl, felt as if his team peaked too early last season and was hoping to fix that this year; and let me tell you, he has.
The first game in the NCAA Tournament was not easy at all. Facing a 12th seed in New Mexico State, a late foul by Bryce Brown on a wing three pointer, almost took them out of the tournament right then and there. If Terrell Brown had made all three of his free throws, the Lobos would have led the Tigers by one with roughly a second and a half left in the game. However, he missed his first and last free throw, which a teammate grabbed the rebound and quickly called a timeout. An excellent drawn up play to get one of their best players wide open for the final shot in the corner, missed the entire rim and ultimately sent the Lobos packing. Their dance was short lived, and the Auburn Tigers lived to see another day. Blame the close game on fatigue. Before the first round, Auburn played four games in four days to win the conference championship. Add those games, the plane trip, and the first round of March Madness four days later, and it equals a very tired group of young men with a lot of heart.
No matter how much fatigue they may have shown in the final minutes of the first round, they knew the fight was not over as they would soon play the second round in two days. Not only did they face another opponent, they faced a blue blood school in Kansas. This Kansas team is no slouch. As the pre-season number one ranked team coming into the year, the Jayhawks definitely lived up to the billing early on; defeating a lot of talented teams. However, when they faced the Tigers, the story was completely different. Auburn put on a shooting display, ultimately nailing 13 threes in the game and giving the Jayhawks their largest halftime deficit in their history in March Madness. Although they seemed to be able to turn it around in the second half, the Tigers never let up and the game was never close.
Washington did not stand a chance against the North Carolina Tar Heels and have been sent home packing. For the Tigers to continue dancing on in their quest for the school’s first basketball national championship, they must knock off yet another blue blood. North Carolina won’t be easy, but these Tigers would not want it any other way. War Eagle!