8 Weeks Till Madness: Auburn Emerges, Top Bubble Games

Photo: AP

Eight weeks from today, the first games of the 2022 NCAA Tournament. An event that feels like both an eon and a second away, there is so much left to sort out in the next two months. Who's in? Who's out? Who's getting a top seed?

Here are some of the top results from this weekend that I think will have a major impact on the tournament, as well as a few of my picks for bubble games that you should check out this week.

War Eagle!

I'm using that title for this subsection partly because I didn't have a lot of ideas, and partly because it's probably my favorite over the top SEC slogan. Anyway, we all knew that SEC men's basketball has been on the rise these past few years, as several top programs have caught up to Kentucky, but I don't know if anyone could have predicted that Auburn, originally ranked 5th in the conference preseason poll, would be the one to rise so quickly this season.

When looking at what makes this Auburn team so great, the answer lies in Jabari Smith. Projected by many to go number one in this year's NBA Draft, the 6-11 forward is exactly the type of big man that's been able to thrive in the college game these past five years, akin to guys like Luka Garza. Statistically, Smith is a phenom, averaging 16.1 points per game, shooting 43% from three point range, and coming in clutch in plenty of big games, including a 25 point performance against the Tigers' dreaded rivals Alabama. 16-1 overall, and 5-0 in conference play, the emergence of the Tigers makes the SEC THE conference to watch for the next month or so, as they continue to challenge for that number one national ranking.

Speaking of that ranking, Auburn fans were pretty vocal on social media this Monday, when it appeared that they missed out on their first number one ranking ever when one pollster ranked them at ninth, giving Gonzaga a four point edge in the Poll. While I understand the frustration, I would urge Auburn fans not to get too hasty, as this season has proven that it's very hard to stay number one.

Bubble games YOU gotta watch this week

Saint Bonaventure at Dayton (Tuesday at 7)- The Bonnies have to make up a lot of lost ground after such a long Covid pause, and a win over the scrappy young Dayton Flyers can boost them right back into the last four in.

Mississippi State at Florida (Wednesday at 6:30)- With both of these SEC teams neck and neck, this game will be do or die for both of their at large hopes.

SMU at Memphis (Thursday at 7)- Memphis had so much promise entering this season, and they've continued to get in their own way. Either they snap this two-game skid, or they're dead in the water.

See you next week!


Recent Posts

See All