The 8th-seeded Iowa Hawkeyes are set to face off against the 9th-seeded Auburn Tigers in Birmingham, Alabama on Thursday evening for the NCAA tournament.
Despite their decent 19-13 record during the regular season, the Hawkeyes struggled in conference play with an 11-10 record against the Big Ten. Their hopes of a higher seed in the NCAA tournament were dashed after a tough loss to Ohio State in the second round of the Big Ten tournament.
Iowa, who is +8000 to win the National Championship, is led by Junior forward Kris Murray, who is the brother of former Hawkeye and first-round NBA draft pick Keegan Murray. Kris Murray is currently averaging an impressive 20.4 points on 48.4% shooting from the field, while also grabbing 7.9 rebounds per game.
Auburn is historically known as a football school, but the Tigers have made significant strides in basketball recently. They reached the Final Four in 2019, were a two seed last year, and are now back as an eight seed. The Tigers finished the regular season with a 20-12 record, but struggled in SEC play with a 10-9 record.
In their first game of the SEC tournament, they were defeated by Arkansas in a close match, losing 76-73. The program’s turnaround is largely credited to their head coach, Bruce Pearl, who has an impressive 33-20 all-time record in NCAA tournaments.
Auburn is going to get the best of Iowa in a high scoring affair, covering the 0.5 point spread.