The Auburn Tigers and Jacksonville State Gamecocks meet Friday in NCAA Tournament First Round college basketball action from Bon Secours Wellness Arena. Jacksonville State is 21-10 overall this season. The Gamecocks lost to Jacksonville in their last game. As for Auburn, they’re 27-5 overall and coming off a loss to Texas A&M. Check back all season long for free college basketball picks at Sports Chat Place.
Jacksonville State got off to an iffy 5-6 start this year. The Gamecocks would rebound in the conference games however, with a 1-3 February run as their only sketchy spot. Jacksonville State was on a five-game win streak before falling to Jacksonville in their last outing.
Back on March 5 versus Jacksonville, the Gamecocks scored just 18 points in the first half. Jacksonville State hit 33 points from there but still lost 54-51. The Gamecocks earned the automatic NCAA Tournament bid this year anyway however, due to Bellarmine’s ineligibility.
Over on the Auburn side, they rolled to a 22-1 record by early February. The Tigers have gone just 5-4 since then, however. The losses during that time came to Arkansas, Florida and Tennessee, then to Texas A&M in the conference tournament.
Last Friday versus the Aggies, the Tigers were in trouble with a 21-37 deficit after the first half. Auburn outscored Texas A&M 41-30 in the second but still lost 67-62. Jabari Smith led the team with his 17 points, nine boards and four assists.
PICK: I’m going to stay with Auburn. The Tigers’ recent record doesn’t look all that great, but they’ve been highly competitive during this 5-4 run. Auburn’s four losses have each come by five points or fewer—all against some pretty darn good competition.
As for Jacksonville State, they had a bad first half against Jacksonville in their last game and it may very well have caused them a conference championship. Still, the Gamecocks have generally done well lately; they’ve hit 69 points or more in five of the last six games. All things considered though, Auburn should be in the driver’s seat for the cover here.