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March Madness is here! Schools from across the country enter the NCAA Tournament hoping to be crowned the national champions. We’re here to provide you with the betting bonuses and breakdowns to help give you the edge in your NCAA Tournament First Round bets.
The eighth-ranked Iowa Hawkeyes match up in first-round action against the ninth-ranked Auburn Tigers! The Tigers have a slight home-court advantage over the Hawkeyes, as the match will be held at Legacy Arena at BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama. Read on for the preview of this Midwest region matchup featuring the best of the SEC and Big Ten!
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Head Coach: Bruce Pearl
Record: 20-12 (10-8, 7th in SEC)
The Auburn Tigers last made it to the Final Four in 2019, and they’re aiming to reach those heights for another season. While they haven’t had their desired level of success this season, Bruce Pearl has created a solid defensive unit that can succeed in a tournament setting.
While the Tigers’ defense was commendable, their offense could have been more encouraging. Against the SEC, Auburn allowed their teams just 69.2 points per game (5th in the SEC) on just 40.9% shooting from the field (4th in the SEC). A paint-biased team, Auburn averaged 71.8 points per game (6th in the SEC) but shot just 43.1% from the field (7th in the SEC) and 49.1% in the paint (8th in the SEC).
After losing seven of their last ten games, the Tigers’ recent form isn’t encouraging. The Tigers went 20-12 overall this season while winning just ten of their 18 games in their conference. The draw went in their favor, though, as a match in Birmingham benefits their chances.
Auburn is led by new-transfer big man Johni Broome, who has fit perfectly under Bruce Pearl. At 6-10, 235 lbs, Broome is averaging 14.0 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks on 52.9% from the field. He may be less skilled inside, but he makes up for it on the defensive side of the ball.
On the other side of the spectrum, 5-10 point guard Wendell Green Jr. averages 13.8 points, 4.2 assists, and 1.7 steals per game on 36.3% shooting. A heady, energetic, volume shooting guard, Green Jr.’s link play with his team has driven their success.
Head Coach: Fran McCaffrey
Record: 19-13 (11-9, 5th in the Big Ten)
Fran McCafrey’s Iowa Hawkeyes did a solid job in a Big Ten dominated by Purdue. To say that they set the pace in their games would be an understatement, boasting one of the best offenses in the nation. Their defense, on the other hand, needs some work.
The Iowa Hawkeyes led the Big Ten in scoring by averaging 78.4 points per game (1st in the Big Ten) on 28.0 field goals per game (1st in the Big Ten) while generating 16.5 assists per game (1st in the Big Ten). Unfortunately, they allowed 76.8 points per game (14th in the Big Ten) on 49.8% from the field (14th in the Big Ten).
Iowa will be working with a problematic situation as Auburn drew a region hosted in their home state. But that shouldn’t deter them, as the Hawkeyes push the pace regardless of matchup or court. Their defense will determine their success against the Tigers, who will also be wrestling for control of the game.
Combo-forward Kris Murray leads the Iowa Hawkeyes. The 6-8 junior is one of the brightest prospects in the Big East, averaging 20.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks on 48.4% from the field and 33.9% from the three-point range. He plays the perfect role for Fran McCaffrey's Hawkeyes, as his inside-out play is crucial to their success.
Fellow big man Filip Rebraca is sure to have an impact on the game. He's paired with Murray to average 14.1 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks on 57.1% from the field in 31.4 minutes per game.
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The Auburn Tigers and Iowa Hawkeyes are set to put on one of the most exciting games of the first round. While the Tigers have yet to be in the best form, Iowa's defense has the potential to fail them in this matchup.
It's a pick 'em game when the Auburn Tigers face the Iowa Hawkeyes, as FanDuel has this game at a -0.5 Iowa spread to open the week. Despite the Tigers not being known for their offense, the total is 152.5 when these teams match up on March Madness Thursday night.
In a game of pace, the Iowa Hawkeyes have the advantage. While they may not be incredibly efficient, Iowa still hit 28.0 field goals per game (1st in the Big Ten) and 8.5 three-point field goals (2nd in the Big Ten). It isn't that the Tigers lack the athleticism to keep up for 40 minutes, but there are just a few teams in the country that can keep up with the Hawkeyes this season.
For Auburn to have a chance against the Hawkeyes, they must control the ball and the glass. The Tigers committed 10.8 turnovers per game (9th in the SEC) and were outrebounded on average by 1.2 rebounds. Their paint presence may be the only difference maker, as their 18.8 two-point field goals (2nd in the SEC) on 49.1% efficiency (8th in the SEC) could give the Hawkeyes trouble.
When it comes down to it, we're taking Iowa to take down Auburn in this matchup. The Hawkeyes' lack of traditional paint presence may hurt them, but they generate so many opportunities that they should run away with the game early.
Location: Legacy Arena at BJCC, Birmingham, AL
Game Time & Date: 6:50 PM EST, Thursday, March 16, 2023
TV Network: TNT
Streaming: YouTube TV, Paramount+, Sling TV, Hulu + Live TV
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
Email: [email protected]More info on Christian Jope
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