No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 15 Jacksonville State NCAA Tournament Betting Odds & Favorites

No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 15 Jacksonville State | NCAA Tournament Betting Odds & Favorites

Little Jacksonville State doesn’t get to play its big in-state brother Auburn often, but the Midwest Region No. 15 Gamecocks get a shot at the No. 2 Tigers in NCAA Tournament action on Friday. The winner gets either USC or Miami (Fla.). Auburn is a double-digit favorite on the NCAAB odds.

How to Bet Auburn vs. Jacksonville State NCAA Basketball Odds & TV Info

Why Bet on Jacksonville State?

Jacksonville State (21-10) lost to Jacksonville in the semifinal of the Atlantic Sun Tournament. Jacksonville then lost to Bellarmine — which is midway through its Division I transition and ineligible for the NCAA tournament — in the title game. So instead, Jacksonville State has earned the league’s automatic bid, its first since 2017, because it had the best regular-season conference record (13-3). The Gamecocks finished 16-4 in their past 20 games and made 40% of their 3-pointers in league play. Plus, Darian Adams (15.6 PPG, 38.5% from beyond the arc) was one of the top players in the conference. And Ray Harper was named Atlantic Sun Coach of the Year. Adams’ 469 points this season are the fifth-most in a single-season by Gamecock in the program’s Division I era. He is joined along the perimeter by graduate transfer Jalen Gibbs and junior Demaree King to create one of the most successful three-point attacks in the nation. All three have hit at least 69 treys, including King’s single-season school-record 84, while boasting the nation’s third-best outside shooting percentage. On the inside, seniors Kayne Henry and Brandon Huffman controlled the paint this season. In 31 games, Huffman shot 65 percent from the field, and led the team with 181 rebounds and Henry pulled down 173 boards and has moved to fifth on JSU’s Division I career rebounding list. The Gamecocks previously earned the program’s first-ever berth into the NCAA Tournament in 2017 winning the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament in Nashville. JSU drew a 15-seed that year and lost to Louisville in Indianapolis in Coach Harper’s first season. Jax State and Auburn have met on the hardwood 13 times since 1955, with the most recent matchup coming on Nov. 19, 2013. The matchup rekindles an old Division II coaching battle between JSU’s Harper (Kentucky Wesleyan) and AU’s Bruce Pearl (Southern Indiana) between 1996 and 2001.

Why Bet on Auburn?

Auburn (27-5) was the SEC regular-season champion but upset in its first conference tournament game last Friday by Texas A&M, 67-62. Auburn didn’t go down without a fight. Trailing 56-37 midway through the second half, the Tigers outscored Texas A&M, 25-11, over the final 10 minutes. Sophomore guard Wendell Green Jr. played a major role in the comeback with four 3-pointers down the stretch. The fourth 3, Green pulled up in transition and buried it from long range to cut the lead to five with a little over two minutes left. Green fouled out a few moments later but finished with 15 points on 5 of 9 from deep. Auburn’s frontcourt duo of Jabari Smith and Walker Kessler continued their strong play with a combined 33 points and 18 rebounds. Smith led the Tigers with 17 points while Kessler scored 13 of his 16 points in the second half. Both pulled down nine rebounds. “We didn’t have a great execution of our game plan,” Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl said. “We had two or three guys plays really well, and you just need more than that. We’re a team that plays better when everybody contributes.” SEC Freshman of the Year Smith is a semifinalist for this year’s Naismith Men’s Player of the Year Award. Smith has had a banner rookie year also becoming the first Auburn player in program history since 1999 to be named an All-American. The SEC coaches also selected him to the All-SEC First Team and SEC All-Freshman Team. Smith was a six-time freshman of the week honoree averaging a team-leading 17.1 points per game in all 31 games he played and started in the regular season. Kessler is one of four finalists for the Naismith Trophy Men’s Defensive Player of the Year Award. The SEC Defensive Player of the Year and All-SEC First Team selection, Kessler enters the NCAA Tournament as the No. 2 shot blocker in the country averaging 4.5 blocks per game and the only NCAA Division I player with two triple-doubles on the season. The No. 2 seed is the second-highest tournament seed for the Tigers, who won the regular-season title outright for the first time since 1999. They were previously seeded a program-best No. 1 in 1999. Auburn received an at-large bid – its 11th all-time NCAA Tournament appearance next to 1984, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2018 and 2019. The Tigers are 17-10 (.630) all-time in NCAA Tournament games including 5-2 under Coach Bruce Pearl.  Auburn went 7-3 this season against NCAA Tournament teams including UConn, Arkansas, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, LSU, Loyola Chicago, Yale and Murray State. Auburn won’t show up to any game in the tournament with a talent deficit but a team that made just 30% of its 3-point attempts in SEC play could get stumped in the later rounds. The last three national champions all shot at least 39% from 3.

Game Trends

  • Gamecocks are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
  • Gamecocks are 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 neutral site games as an underdog.
  • Gamecocks are 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 games as an underdog.
  • Tigers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up loss.
  • Tigers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 neutral site games as a favorite.
  • Tigers are 11-5 ATS in their last 16 neutral site games.
  • Tigers are 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games as a favorite.

Expert Prediction

  • Auburn 78, Jacksonville 63

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