It’s been a long road to get here for the Tigers, who just barely escaped in the opening round against New Mexico State. Since then, they have continued to knock teams out, and now they are just one single win away from being among the four best teams in the country.
Kentucky needed late-game heroics to get past Houston, and they came in the form of a Tyler Herro three-ball with 20 seconds left. The return of PJ Washington was just what they needed to claw away at the game in the waning moments, as were able to punch their ticket to the Elite Eight. The Kentucky Wildcats come into this game at -2.5 over Auburn.
Pearl’s Tigers Red Hot
No matter what happens for Auburn today on the floor, they will be playing for their star. Chuma Okeke suffered a torn ACL in the win over #1 UNC, which ended his season prematurely, while really hurting his draft stock. Him being out really hurts their rotation and gives them a bit less size, but the fact that they were able to finish strong in his absence tells us what we need to know. Auburn scored an NCAA program tournament record of 97 points in that last victory.
Bryce Brown is a knockdown three-point shooter who has been making them all tournament long. Jared Harper has also been burying the shots from deep, while Samir Doughty has been playing well for them of late. Bruce Pearl has been able to get the absolute maximum effort from his players needed to make it this far. Can they keep it going without Okeke?
They nearly got knocked out by the Houston Cougars last round, but Tyler Herro’s clutch shooting combined with big plays from the returning PJ Washington were enough to help the Wildcats get here. They have held all three of their opponents below 60 points in this tournament, as their defense has been in top form. The fact that their offense has so many different playmakers makes this offense them a bit hard to figure out.
Reid Travis has done an impressive job of collecting rebounds, while Ashton Hagans has started to really make an impact on games. Keldon Johnson has been stroking the jumper along with Tyler Herro, while PJ Washington is out here making shots with a low percentage chance. As long as they have John Calipari as their head coach, they will always have a chance to make a run in the tournament. He is about as good a coach as you will find in the NCAA.
Kentucky knocks off short-handed Auburn, moves to the Final Four
Sorry, Auburn, and Charles Barkley. Not having Okeke out there is going to be too much to have to overcome again. Be sure that you bet KEN -2.5. A big performance from PJ Washington and three-point bonanza from Tyler Herro will get them the win.
Free Pick: Kentucky Wildcats -2.5
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