It’s a losers’ bracket matchup of the Battle 4 Atlantis on the college hardwood when the SEC takes the floor against the Missouri Valley Conference in an island paradise. The #19 Auburn Tigers are the “road” team as they make the trip to face the Loyola Chicago Ramblers Thursday afternoon. Auburn battled to the end but came up on the short end of a 115-109 double-overtime decision to UConn in their first-round contest Wednesday afternoon. Loyola Chicago fell short as they fell 63-61 to Michigan State in their first-round matchup Wednesday afternoon. This marks the first matchup between these two programs on the hardwood as Division I foes.
Auburn Tigers Hoping to Bounce Back From Gutwrenching LossAuburn rallied from a double-digit deficit in the second half to force overtime and then rallied to force a second overtime before running out of steam in their first-round matchup with UConn. The Tigers dropped to 3-1 on the season with the loss to the Huskies and hope to regroup here. Against UConn, Auburn trailed by 11 at the half and was down by 15 with 11 minutes to play in regulation. The Tigers rallied by outscoring the Huskies 33-18 the rest of regulation to force overtime. Auburn was down four with 21 seconds to play in the first overtime before forcing a second overtime. In the second overtime, the Tigers gave up a 9-0 run to break a 100-100 tie and couldn’t find a way to regroup. Auburn shot 43.2% from the field, including 12 of 30 from three-point range, but lost the rebounding battle 48-35 in the contest. K.D. Johnson led the Tigers with 27 points in the loss.
The Tigers come into this contest 125th in the nation in scoring offense as they put up an average of 76 points per game on the year. Auburn pulls down an average of 36.3 rebounds per contest while they are 174th by dishing out an average of 13.8 assists per game. The Tigers are above average defensively as they are 21st in scoring defense by allowing an average of 57 points a night. Wendell Green Jr. is third on the Tigers with 13.3 points plus 4.5 rebounds a game this season. Jabari Smith (15.5 points, eight rebounds) and K.D. Johnson (18 points) each are averaging in double figures on the year. Chris Moore, Jaylin Williams, Devan Cambridge, Walker Kessler, Zep Jasper and Dylan Cardwell are all looked at to contribute for coach Bruce Pearl. Auburn shoots 43.2% from the field as a team on the season. The Tigers knock down an average of nine three-pointers a night while shooting 29.3% from beyond the arc on the year. Auburn has been average at the charity stripe as they convert 72.7% of their attempts on the season. Allen Flanigan is expected to be out until sometime in December as he recovers from an Achilles injury.
Loyola Chicago Ramblers Try to Regroup After First DefeatLoyola Chicago held the advantage at the half over Michigan State but there were unable to maintain that momentum down the stretch and gave up the winning bucket late to take the loss. The Ramblers now try to bounce back from that first defeat as they are 4-1 on the year. Against Michigan State, Loyola Chicago trailed 9-0 early before regrouping to lead 28-23 at the half. The Ramblers pushed their lead to nine in the opening minute of the second half only to see Michigan State come back. With the game tied in the closing seconds, the Ramblers allowed the Spartans to score the winning bucket with five seconds to play. Loyola Chicago shot 37.3% from the field, including seven of 20 from three-point range and failed to capitalize enough on 20 Michigan State turnovers. Lucas Williamson led the Ramblers with 16 points and eight rebounds in the loss.
The Ramblers stand 36th in the nation in scoring offense as they put up an average of 85 points per game on the season. Loyola Chicago collects 35.6 boards per night and rank 2nd in assists by dishing out 19.8 dimes a night. The Ramblers are excellent on the defensive end as they are 65th in the nation by allowing 60.8 points per contest. Ryan Schweiger leads the team with 12.8 points per game this season. Aher Uguak (12.2 points) and Lucas Williamson (11.8 points, six rebounds, 3.8 assists) are solid secondary scoring options. Braden Norris, Tate Hall, Marquise Kennedy, Chris Knight, Jacob Hutson, Tom Welch and Saint Thomas all are secondary options on the offensive end of the floor. Loyola Chicago shoots a blistering 50.7% from the field as a team on the year. The Ramblers connect on 10.8 three-pointers per contest while shooting 43.5% from beyond the arc. Loyola Chicago is converting 68.5% of their attempts at the free-throw line this season, a number they’d like to improve a bit.
Best Bets for this Game
Full-Game Side Bet
We saw Auburn in a track meet type of contest with UConn in their first-round matchup before falling short. The Tigers basically went seven deep with five guys logging at least 32 minutes and two others playing 22 and 25 minutes, respectively. Bruce Pearl’s other three players saw action for 14, seven and one minute, respectively. The Tigers are going to have their work cut out for them here against a very efficient Loyola Chicago team that took Michigan State to the wire. Auburn is still trying to get everyone up to speed in their rotation and we saw them only put up 58 points against South Florida before losing to UConn. Look for Loyola Chicago to come up with the win in this contest, or at worst, cover the line.
Full-Game Total Pick
Auburn saw a combined 224 points in their loss to UConn Wednesday afternoon, evening their mark in regard to the total at two games apiece. The Tigers face a Ramblers team that opened with four straight overs before falling short in the loss to Michigan State. Auburn comes into this game 23rd in offensive efficiency and 40th in defensive efficiency this season according to KenPom. The Tigers are 152nd in effective field goal percentage (50%), including 120th in two-point shooting (51.3%) on the year and they don’t beat themselves. Auburn is 23rd in turnover percentage by committing miscues on just 14.7% of their possessions. The Tigers love to run as they are 49th in the nation in tempo with 71.8 possessions a night. According to KenPom, Loyola Chicago is ninth in the nation in effective field goal percentage (59.5%), seventh in three-point shooting and 49th in two-point shooting (55.5%) this season. The Ramblers are pouring in points despite ranking just 201st in tempo with 68.8 possessions a night. Look for this one to go over the number.