The Auburn Tigers have made an incredible run through the 2019 NCAA Tournament and are set to play for a chance to head to the national title. But before that happens, Bruce Pearl’s team faces the No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers with a championship berth on the line. Auburn entered this year’s tournament as a No. 5 seed and largely viewed as the underdog in most matchups to this point in the eyes of many.
After a first-round win over 12-seed New Mexico State, the Tigers defeated a No. 4 seed (Kansas), No. 1 (UNC) and No. 2 (Kentucky) to wind up in the Final Four. In the history of Auburn basketball, the team’s current run marks its best ever, and one more win would give them a chance to achieve another accomplishment they never have before.
Auburn Playing in First Final Four
Prior to this season, the Tigers had only made the Elite Eight one other time in the program’s history. That came back during the 1985-86 season, and they lost to the Louisville Cardinals 84-76 to fall one win short of the Final Four. This was the closest they’ve ever come to a national championship, so the 2018-19 season marks their first-ever run this deep in the tournament.
Auburn currently holds a 30-9 record entering the national semifinal, and have made it this far with some impressive wins. Here’s a look at how their path to the Final Four has played out:
- Round of 64: vs. 12 New Mexico State (78-77)
- Round of 32: vs. 4 Kansas (89-75)
- Sweet 16: vs 1 North Carolina (97-80)
- Elite Eight: vs 2 Kentucky (77-71)
After a near-upset in the opening round against New Mexico State, the Tigers caught fire and reeled off back-to-back double-digit victories against two top-four seeds. UNC was a popular national champion pick by many, primarily falling behind the Duke Blue Devils, and Auburn simply dominated in that game.
What’s Ahead for Auburn?
While a date with one of the nation’s best defensive teams in Virginia won’t be a walk in the park, if they’re able to get the win and head to their first-ever national title, another tough opponent will be next. On the other side of the bracket, the No. 2 seed Michigan State Spartans face No. 3 seed Texas Tech Red Raiders.
The Spartans are fresh off an upset of Duke while the Red Raiders stunned the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the Elite Eight after also knocking off two-seed Michigan the game prior. Any of the four remaining teams in the 2019 tournament have the talent to get the job done, so the final days of March Madness (in April) should be incredibly entertaining.