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What Auburn basketball fans should be rooting for in Thursday's games

By James Crepea | | Posted March 08, 2018 at 08:00 AM

No. 16 Auburn basketball opens play in the SEC Tournament Friday against the winner of Texas A&M-Alabama, but there are other games that will determine where the Tigers are seeded in the NCAA Tournament.

We are taking a look each day at the outcomes that will most benefit Auburn (25-6, 13-5 SEC), which is currently projected as either a No. 2 or 3 seed.
Assuming Virginia, Villanova & Xavier are No. 1 seeds and Kansas is too far ahead of Auburn given its 18-6 record in Q1 & Q2 games to Auburn's 10-6, we're focusing on teams on Auburn's schedule and the opponents of Cincinnati, Duke, Purdue, North Carolina, Tennessee, Clemson, Wichita State, Michigan and Michigan State.
Here are the outcomes Auburn would most benefit from on Thursday:

Michael Dwyer/AP

Dayton vs. VCU, 11 a.m. NBCSN

Dayton (RPI 136) is on the edge of Q3 and Q2. One win should ensure Auburn gets a second non-conference road win in Q1 & Q2.

Jessica Hill/AP

UConn vs. SMU, 11 a.m. ESPNU

UConn (RPI 106) isn't moving from a Q3 home win for Auburn, but it could move up to a Q2 neutral site win for Michigan State with a win. The winner also plays Cincinnati. There's no way to know who has the better chance of beating the Bearcats, but one could argue the better outcome for Auburn is a UConn loss just to keep MSU from gaining a better win on paper.

Sam Craft/AP

Texas A&M vs. Alabama, 12 p.m. SEC Network

There will be debate about who Auburn prefers here all day. On one hand, the Tigers could get another shot at a rival and a Q2 game. On the other, Auburn could get a shot at redemption against Texas A&M (RPI 24), its best loss on paper, even though the Aggies are a massive size mismatch.

A Texas A&M loss to Alabama (RPI 57), which Auburn has a Q1 road loss and Q2 home win against, could drop the Aggies below RPI 30 though, which would mean they could become Auburn's fifth-best loss instead if things break a certain way.

From a strictly math standpoint, Auburn wants Texas A&M to beat Alabama to keep its loss in Q1 and possibly gain a Q1 win.

Alexa Welch Edlund/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP

George Mason vs. UMass, 1:30 p.m. NBCSN

George Mason (RPI 201) is not moving from Q4 on Auburn's resume, but the more wins the better.

Jeff Roberson/AP

Georgia vs. Missouri, 2:30 p.m. SEC Network

Georgia (RPI 83) is a Q2 road win and Q3 home win for Auburn whereas Missouri (RPI 33) is a Q1 away win. A Bulldogs win could move those to Q1 & Q2, respectively, for Auburn and the Missouri game is not a threat to fall. Also, the sooner Missouri is out of the SEC Tournament with Michael Porter Jr. back the better.

Lance King/Getty Images

Utah Valley vs. CSU Bakersfield, 4:30 p.m. ESPN3

Duke defeated Utah Valley (RPI 74) 99-69 back in November. A loss by the No. 2 seed in the WAC Tournament would almost definitely drop Utah State out of the RPI top 75 and to Q3, which would hurt Duke's resume relative to Auburn.

Isaac Brekken/AP

Stanford vs. UCLA, 4:30 p.m. Pac-12 Network

Stanford (RPI 76) is barely a Q2 road win for UNC and UCLA (RPI 38) is a Q2 home win for Michigan. For now, Auburn wants UNC's resume to take a hit. Though with the Wolverines winning the Big 10 Tournament, UCLA improving too much would not be good for Auburn either.

Stephen Dunn/AP

Temple vs. Tulane, 6 p.m. ESPNU

This is arguably the most important game of the day for Auburn. Temple (RPI 52) is a Q2 neutral-site loss for Auburn but a win could make it Q1 again. Tulane (RPI 160) is also barely a Q3 home win for North Carolina, so a loss will drop it to Q4. The winner advances to play Wichita State and Auburn will want the best chance of that upset, which is also Temple. Clemson has an interest in Temple's success as well.

Patrick Dennis/The Advocate via AP

Mississippi State vs. LSU, 6 p.m. SEC Network

Mississippi State (RPI 72) is hanging on as a Q1 road win for Auburn whereas LSU (RPI 87) is not moving from a Q3 home win without several wins in St. Louis. Auburn wants the Bulldogs to keep a sure thing, even if it helps Tennessee too.

Julie Jacobson/AP

Notre Dame vs. Duke, 6 p.m. ESPN

Notre Dame (RPI 70) didn't do Auburn any favors by beating Virginia Tech on Wednesday to stay as a Q2 home win for Duke and UNC and a Q1 road win for the Tar Heels. Now, Auburn wants the Irish to beat Duke if there's any chance for the Tigers to move ahead of the Blue Devils in terms of true seeding. A Duke win would be Q2 regardless but it could drop the value of Notre Dame during the season if a lot of other things break right.

Charlie Riedel/AP

Texas vs. Texas Tech, 6 p.m. ESPN2

Texas (RPI 48) is a Q1 neutral-site win for Duke and a bubble team. If Texas Tech ends the Longhorns' run in the Big 12 Tournament it could put a top 50 RPI finish in flux and drop to Q2.

Mark Zaleski/AP

Middle Tennessee State vs. Southern Miss, 6 p.m. Twitter Stadium

MTSU (RPI 29) is Auburn's third-biggest win. The Blue Raiders are in no danger of falling out of Q1, but the better they are the better it is for Auburn.

AP/John Raoux

UCF vs. East Carolina, 8 p.m. ESPNU

UCF (RPI 78) is a Q2 road & Q3 home win for Cincinnati and is also on Wichita State's resume. Auburn could use an East Carolina upset.

Michael Woods/AP

Arkansas vs. South Carolina, 8:30 p.m. SEC Network

Arkansas (RPI 30) is on the edge of Q1 as a home win for Auburn but the road loss isn't moving no matter what. Auburn wanted South Carolina (RPI 80) to win Wednesday, but now it needs Arkansas to stay as its fourth-best win.

Andrew Uloza/Miami Herald via AP

Miami vs. North Carolina, 8:30 p.m. ESPN

Similar to Duke's game with Notre Dame but Miami (RPI 26) is much higher on paper. The winner gets a Q1 win regardless. However, if Miami loses UNC may bounce its home loss to the Hurricanes down to Q2. Still, Auburn wants UNC to lose as early as possible in the ACC Tournament.

Michael Conroy/AP

Butler vs. Seton Hall, 8:30 p.m. FS1

Butler (RPI 46) is a Q1 neutral-site win for Purdue. A loss early in the Big East Tournament could drop the Bulldogs below RPI 50 and to Q2.

Mark Humphrey/AP

UAB vs. WKU, 9 p.m. Facebook

UAB (RPI 156) is just hanging on as a Q3 home win for Auburn and WKU (RPI 53) is just outside a Q1 neutral-site loss for Purdue. This is surprisingly one of the more important games on Thursday's slate for the Tigers' math because of that.


i thought some of you guys might enjoy this ..........................

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Thanks for sharing this, lots of moving parts here in the next few days. I love March!

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9 minutes ago, Tiger said:

Thanks for sharing this, lots of moving parts here in the next few days. I love March!

thanx tiger. i try to help keep aufam updated even if the article does not interest me much cus i love the auburn family!

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This is good stuff. Certainly makes the entire spectrum of the next few days fun to follow.

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