Today sees #5 Auburn Tigers face #2 Kentucky Wildcats (2.20pm ET Sunday live on CBS) in the Elite Eight and here we give our betting preview with predictions and picks for this game.
There’s a reason it’s called March Madness and with one day of Elite Eight games in the books, the chaos may only just be beginning. Day one was rife with excitement as #3 seed Texas Tech pulled off a surprising victory over #1 seed Gonzaga and #1 seed Virginia needed overtime to just barely outlast #3 seed Purdue.
Both Texas Tech and Purdue put up great fights as the underdogs, but only one survived and advanced. Virginia kept their hopes alive, joining Texas Tech as the first two teams to book their trips to the Final Four.
Today #1 Duke will take on #2 Michigan State and #5 Auburn will look to continue its run as lowest seed left in the field when they take on #2 Kentucky. With Gonzaga and #1 North Carolina already out, Sunday’s results will show if Virginia goes to the Final Four the lone #1 remaining or if Duke, the overall #1 and overwhelming favorite to win it all, does good on its high pre-tournament expectations.
It wasn’t that long ago, before conference tournament season, that several people had Kentucky penciled in as a #1 seed. Then, in the semifinals, the Wildcats, who finished with a 30-6 record in the regular season, fell to Tennessee.
This set up Tennessee and Auburn in the championship, which the Tigers won easily, 84-64. Winning the SEC Championship Tournament wasn’t exactly the launching pad Auburn might have hoped for right away however, as the Tigers almost didn’t make it out of the first round.
Facing the 12th seeded New Mexico State University, Auburn needed a late bucket to avoid being on the wrong side of the classic 12/5 upset. They won by just one point before advancing to play Kansas in the second round. Auburn looked a little more solid against Kansas, defeating the Jayhawks by a dominant 14 points thanks to 25 dropped by Bryce Brown, one of the top players coming into March.
In the Sweet 16, Auburn faced their toughest challenge yet, against UNC. While the matchup wasn’t in their favor, the Tigers continued to roll, taking down the 2017 National Champion in a 17-point rout. Chuma Okeke led the way, posting a double-double (20/11), but unfortunately for Auburn, an injury forced him out of the game. That’s definitely a huge blow to Auburn’s chances to continue their Cinderella-esque run.
Kentucky’s road to the Elite Eight hasn’t been as dominant but the Wildcats have shown they were worthy of that #1 seed after all. After obliterating their fellow Wildcats of Abilene Christian University to the tune of 79-44, Kentucky advanced to take on Wofford in the second round. The Wildcats won by six, which was followed up by a four point win over #3 Houston in the Sweet 16.
One of the deepest rosters in college basketball, Kentucky has been led by a different high scorer in each of their three tournament victories. On the season, the Wildcats had four players average scoring in double digits including PJ Washington, who returned against Houston after previously missing the last two games. Washington was Kentucky’s leading scorer on the year so having him back is a huge boost to the Wildcats’ chances to win another national title.
Kentucky and Auburn have met twice this year with the Wildcats coming out on top both times, winning by a combined total of 29 points. History suggests that it’s really tough for a team to win against another team three times in the same season but history doesn’t take into account injuries to key players.
Losing Okeke is rough for the Tigers as he averaged in double digit scoring during the regular season. That said, the Tigers have two other players capable of putting up big numbers and since that blowout loss to Kentucky in February, haven’t lost a game. The moment hasn’t been too big for Auburn to this point and against a familiar foe, it doesn’t seem like it will be the case today.
Our Auburn vs Kentucky predictions and picks are:
- Take Auburn +5pts @ odds of -115 with Bovada. Of the other top sports gambling sites, they are either +4pts or + 4.5pts.
- We fancy under 143pts @ -109 with Bookmaker, whose points total for this Elite Eight game is higher than the rest.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.