Auburn
Feb 14, 2024; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers forward Johni Broome (4), guard Denver Jones (12), guard Chaney Johnson (31) celebrate with guard Chad Baker-Mazara (10) after he made a three point shot to end the first half against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Neville Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Auburn Takes on Yale in the First Round of the Men’s NCAA Basketball Tournament

The fourth-seed Auburn Tigers (27-7) will play the 13th-seed Yale Bulldogs (22-9) in the first round of this year’s men’s NCAA Tournament on Friday.

King of the South

The Tigers found themselves at the top of the SEC when they won this year’s SEC Tournament. They beat the Texas A&M Aggies, and Mississippi State Bulldogs, before taking down the Florida Gators 86-67 in the SEC Tournament Championship. This wasn’t an easy path as all three of these teams made it to March Madness.

Auburn is led by Johni Broome who averages 16.2 points per game but many other players contribute as coach Bruce Pearl usually plays 10 players in a game.  The Auburn defense is usually good as well, as the Tigers average 7.4 steals, 6.2 blocks a game, and allow the second-lowest opponent field goal percentage only trailing the Houston Cougars.

On top of a suffocating defense, this is a team that doesn’t rely on any one man. The Tigers have depth and are fourth in bench points per game. They also know how to move the ball as they are eighth in assists per game. This is a team that plays as a team and can overwhelm their opponents as they have limited weaknesses to exploit.

Boys in Blue

The Yale Bulldogs punched their ticket to the dance when they won the Ivy League Championship. They beat Cornell in the semifinals and Brown in the championship off a buzzer beater winning 62-61.

The Bulldogs are led by Danny Wolf who averages 14.3 points and 9.8 rebounds per contest. The remaining starting four also average over 10 points which is desperately needed as their bench only gives them about 15 points every game.

Their offense takes care of the ball as they are sixth in the country in fewest turnovers; an important factor in their game because their defense struggles to cause turnovers. However, that doesn’t mean that their defense struggles to stop teams. They only allow about 66 points per game.

The Matchup

This could be a low scoring game because both teams have good defenses, but the key factor here could be depth. Auburn can rely on their bench to step up and play in big moments. Yale on the other hand does not have as deep a bench. This means that the Bulldog starters will most likely get a lot of playing time as they try to keep up with the Tigers’ rotations. The good news for Yale is that this is basketball in March, and it’s called March Madness for a reason. Anything can happen.

Tipoff is set for March 22 at 4:15 as the Tigers take on the Bulldogs in Spokane, Washington in the first round of this year’s NCAA Tournament.

About Michael Tubbs

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