Auburn basketball doesn't have preference between Alabama, Texas A&M matchup

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Auburn basketball doesn't have preference between Alabama, Texas A&M matchup

Auburn will learn its opening opponent in the SEC Tournament in a few hours, but doesn't have a preference between Alabama and Texas A&M.
As the top seed in the SEC Tournament Auburn gets a chance to watch its potential opponents play today in St. Louis. The Tigers will either get a third meeting with their in-state rival, who they split the season series with, or a shot at redemption against their best loss on paper but a brutal physical mismatch.
"Therefore because of that I will respectively decline an answer to that question," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said as to whether he had a preference in opponent.
No. 16 Auburn (25-6, 13-5 SEC) lost its lone meeting with Texas A&M this season, an 81-80 game in Auburn Arena in which Bryce Brown injured his shoulder late in the first half. The Aggies (20-11, 9-9 SEC) have a massive size advantage over the Tigers, especially without Anfernee McLemore.
Alabama (17-14, 8-10 SEC) has been in free fall and split the season series with Auburn. A third meeting with a rival is a big risk-reward, even if Alabama is undoubtedly a better matchup for Auburn than Texas A&M.
From a strictly mathematical perspective as it relates to impacting NCAA Tournament seeding, Auburn likely wants Texas A&M to win.
Texas A&M is RPI 25, making it Auburn's best loss on paper and a Quadrant 1 neutral-site game if they beat Alabama today. A loss could drop the Aggies enough to make them Auburn's fifth-best loss on paper, depending on what happens with Temple today.
As RPI 56, Alabama is a Quadrant 1 road loss and Quadrant 2 home win for Auburn and neither of those games are moving up or down on paper. The Crimson Tide could possibly slide up to a Quadrant 1 neutral site (RPI 50) game with a win today, but that would also hurt Texas A&M on paper, and it might be short lived improvement if Auburn were to beat Alabama on Friday.
"I don't have a preference," point guard Jared Harper said. "Both are good teams, so we're going to have to come prepared for either team we have to play. I'm just ready to play, honestly, just anybody."
James Crepea is an Auburn beat reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter @JamesCrepea.

from Auburn Sports Impact

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