The Auburn basketball team shocked the country by holding the nation’s longest winning streak just a few weeks ago. But now the question is, was it just lightning in a bottle, or are they here to stay?
The state of Alabama is always full of surprises when it comes to sports, but usually those surprises come on the gridiron. The biggest surprise this year, not just in the state of Alabama, but also in the country is the rise of the Auburn basketball team.
The Alabama basketball team is also getting in on the hardwood fun as well. Just this past weekend, the unranked Tide shocked the country by upsetting Oklahoma, a top 10 team led by possibly the best player in the nation in Trae Young.
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Auburn basketball: Real or Fake?
A few weeks ago Auburn held the largest winning streak in the country at 14 games and was sitting at 15-1. The streak was impressive and the Tigers sat at number 17 in the country, but you still wondered just how good the Tigers were.
The streak finally came to an end when Auburn dropped a road loss to a Collin Sexton-less Alabama on January 17. Most teams with a history like Auburn probably would have folded after suffering their first loss in 14 games, and only their second of the season, but the Tigers came back even stronger. Which begs the question. Just how legitimate are the Tigers?
Auburn bounced back from that loss with a comeback double-digit win over Georgia. They then added dominating double-digit wins over Missouri and LSU before getting a road win over Ole Miss, their first win at the Pavilion in 10 years.
So what was Auburn’s reward for all that? Well the Tigers currently sit as the number 11 ranked team in the country, their highest ranking in 18 years.
They also sit alone atop the SEC; yes they are above the likes of teams such as Kentucky and Florida, with a 20-2 record, including an 8-1-conference record.
Even while the Tigers were going through the nation’s longest win streak, the question you still heard was, “What do the Tigers have to do to make the NCAA tournament?”
However, that narrative has completely flipped. The question now is not what do the Tigers need to do to make the tournament, but rather just how high of a seed can they grab? Joe Lunardi currently has Auburn as a number 2 seed in his bracketology. A number 2 seed given the history of Auburn basketball, coupled with the trials they went through in preseason this year, would be astounding in itself. But the question is can they keep that spot, or possibly even climb higher? The answer right now looks like a resounding yes.
The SEC is a very deep and strong conference this year. You need only look back to last weekend when they defeated the BIG 12 6-4 in the BIG 12/SEC challenge. So for the Tigers to be sitting atop the SEC shows how strong a team they are.
The good news for Auburn? They still have a chance to make their resume even stronger. Auburn has three big time games in late February when they play Alabama and Kentucky on back-to-back Wednesdays and then play Florida on Feb. 24. If the Tigers can get at least two wins out of those three games they will be sitting pretty, plus they still have the SEC tournament.
Don’t get me wrong; the Tigers still have a mountain of obstacles left. Just as head coach Bruce Pearl said, the Tigers are just a couple of losses away from going from first to fifth in the SEC. However, if they can keep their heads on straight and take care of business the sky is the limit for the Tigers.
I fully expect Auburn to not only be dancing when they big dance rolls around in March, but I expect them to grab a top seed and make a deep run.