Auburn Tigers: 26-9, 11-7 in the Southeastern Conference
Head coach: Bruce Pearl (5th season)
Players to watch: Bryce Brown (15.7 PPG, 40.1 3PT%, 80.9 FT%); Jared Harper (15.4 PPG, 5.8 APG, 38.7 3PT%); Chuma Okeke (11.6 PPG, 6.6 RPG, 1.7 SPG)
Season recap: The Tigers were projected to dominate this season and were a top-10 team for most of nonconference play after a 9-1 start. Auburn struggled to get a big win for most of the season, however, and found itself out of the top 25 by the end of January.
However, the Tigers found their rhythm in mid-February and closed the season on an eight-game winning streak, which was highlighted by a pair of wins against Tennessee including a dominant 84-64 performance in the conference championship game.
The late run was sparked by dominant all-around play by Chuma Okeke and sharpshooting by Jared Harper, which has made Auburn a potential second-weekend contender in the tournament. The Tigers have a tendency to live and die by the triple, but Auburn appears to have caught fire at the right time.
How they make a run: Harper and Bryce Brown continue their lights-out shooting and Okeke and junior center Austin Wiley are able to keep opponents out of the paint as the Tigers advance to the second weekend.
How they falter: Opposing big men get Okeke and Wiley in foul trouble and Auburn loses the battle on the glass. Complemented by poor play on the perimeter, the Tigers face a disappointing first-round exit.