(5) Auburn Tigers vs (2) Kentucky Wildcats: Predictions, Odds and Roster Notes

How to Watch

What: Auburn Tigers vs Kentucky Wildcats

Where: Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO

When: Sunday, March 31st at 2:20 PM EST

How (TV): CBS

Auburn Tigers (Away)

Head Coach: Bruce Pearl {Record: 29-9 | Conference: 11-7, 4th in SEC}

Projected Starting Lineup: (G) Jared Harper – (G) Malik Dunbar – (G) Bryce Brown – (F) Anfernee McLemore – (F) Horace Spencer

The Auburn Tigers have been improving with every round of the NCAA tournament. So far they’ve defeated New Mexico State, Kansas, and most recently tournament favourites the North Carolina Tar Heels. Their offence has been unstoppable as of late, going on a brilliant run to make their way to the Elite Eight.

The beauty of the NCAA tournament is seen through the success of the Auburn Tigers. When they faced-off against the Tar Heels the number of times each team made it to the Final Four was 20-0 in favour of UNC. Now the Tigers have a chance to make history, for the first time for their school the Elite Eight will be their next step to glory.

What carried the Tigers through their match was their tremendous offence. Even greater than standard, a 55% shooting night from the field and 17 three-point field-goals. It was a total team effort, as the Tigers had six different players contribute 10 points or more while having all thirteen dressed players enter the game.

Kentucky Wildcats (Home)

Head Coach: John Calipari {Record: 30-6 | Conference: 15-3, 2nd in SEC}

Projected Starting Lineup: (G) Tyler Herro – (G) Ashton Haggans – (G) Keldon Johnson – (F) EJ Montgomery – (F) Reid Travis

Kentucky enters the Elite Eight with their date being the red-hot Auburn Tigers. While the Tigers have been winning via their brilliant offence, Kentucky has been taking home wins via some impressive defensive performances. If they can keep up with the Tigers’ attack, the Wildcats should be able to put on an offensive show of their own.

Regardless of the Auburn game plan, the Wildcats are very evenly spread in terms of offensive production. Keldon Johnson, Reid Travis, and Tyler Herro are all averaging over 12 points per game and are leaned on for scoring in difficult situations. Don’t discount their role players though, PJ Washington came off the bench to contribute a brilliant 16 points on an efficient 6-8 shooting night in their last match.

Simply put, the Wildcats need to do what they do best to win this match. For a win, Kentucky needs to control the paint on both ends while defending the three-point line. Auburn has hit 45% of their three-point attempts this season but will struggle in the paint with the likely exclusion of Okeke. The Wildcats will need to grind out a win.

Auburn Tigers Roster Notes

F Chuma Okeke – 29 Mar 2019 – OUT (ACL) – Okeke left the last match against UNC early after going down with injury. An MRI confirmed Okeke suffered a torn ACL and will miss the remainder of the tournament.

Kentucky Wildcats Roster Notes

G Quade Green – 14 Dec 2018 – OUT (Transfer) – Green is no longer with the team as he is pending a transfer to Washington.

F PJ Washington – 30 Mar 2019 – Probable (Foot) – Washington is working through a sprained left foot, but is expected to play against Auburn on Sunday.

Head-to-Head: Bryce Brown (AUB) vs Tyler Herro (KEN)

With big man Chuma Okeke out for the remainder of the tournament, expect the Tigers to go all-in on their run and gun style of offence. Bryce Brown has had a Jekyll and Hyde like series against Kentucky this year while Tyler Herro seems to be peaking at just the right moment. It should be a fun matchup.

Bryce Brown

Guard | 6-3, 198lb (190cm, 89kg) | Tucker HS | Stone Mountain, GA | Senior

15.8 PPG | 1.9 APG | 2.1 RPG | 1.1 SPG | 0.1 BPG | 1.7 TOV | .433 FG% | .407 3P%

When Brown’s shots are falling he is one of the best players in the SEC and certainly one of the best guards. He has struggled, by his standards, this tournament only converting on 36% of his three’s. During the season Brown had a 28-point, 6-7 from three game and a 6 point game against Kentucky already this year. How he responds in the Elite Eight will define their success.

Tyler Herro

Guard | 6-5, 195lb (196cm, 88kg) | Whitnall HS | Milwaukee, WI | Freshman

14.2 PPG | 2.4 APG | 4.5 RPG | 1.1 SPG | 0.3 BPG | 1.6 TOV | .467 FG% | .360 3P%

He may be one of the most polarizing athletes in the NCAA, but the truth of the matter is that Tyler Herro has been a spark plug for the Wildcats’ performances. He doesn’t hit from range at a high volume, but in his last game against Houston he put up a team-leading 19 points on 7-13 shooting. While his usage rate is highest of the starting five he will be tasked with slowing down Auburn shooter Bryce Brown. With his energy on the defensive end Herro may be able to slow the skilled shooting Tiger, but can’t afford to compromise his team with ill-controlled closeouts.

Auburn Tigers at Kentucky Wildcats Predictions and Odds

The odds makers have the Kentucky Wildcats favoured over the Auburn Tiger by 4.5, with a -113 for Auburn and a -115 for Kentucky.

The Moneyline for Auburn-Kentucky is as follows:

Kentucky: -215

Auburn: +160

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