Auburn upset No. 1 Houston

Auburn forward Johnny Broom celebrates after the Tigers' first round win over Iowa State in the NCAA Tournament.

Auburn forward Johnny Broom celebrates after the Tigers’ first round win over Iowa State in the NCAA Tournament.
Photo:: Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire (AP:)

Now that my unbeaten record A 13-seed or lower in the NCAA tournament is still publicly unchanged since Furman’s win over Virginia On Thursday I decide not to rest on my laurels and tell you about another prediction I made earlier this week. For fans of Deadspin’s! Agree to disagree video series, this is a selection I already announced on camera. Auburn will upset the Midwest Region’s No. 1 seed in Houston on Saturday. It’s not as farfetched as choosing Paladins or St. Peter’s in Kentucky last year, but there is no doubt about what is beneficial.

The Cougars looked awful against one of the worst teams in the NCAA tournament. Northern Kentucky came out of the low-major Horizon League. The Norse team honestly impressed me last night and put up a tough match against arguably one of the best teams in the country. Calvin Sampson’s team earned that No. 1 and was arguably the most consistent team in the country during the regular season. And Houston was either looking past a team they knew they could easily beat, or the rookie Scandinavian really discovered what Marcus Sasser’s team looks like.

If you take away the best player from any great team, it won’t be as strong anymore. Purdue is a bubble team without Zach Edey and could be playing in the NIT right now. Alabama without Brandon Millerwhich should be a reality right now extrajudicial drama Surrounding the Crimson Tide would have a strong seed in the Big Dance, but probably more toward the 4-5 line. Sasser is the point guard for the Cougars. The fall without the 6-foot-2 senior guard and a potential NBA lottery pick Obviously because of the groin injury he suffered in the American Athletic Conference tournament last week. He was pulled by Sampson at half-time and Houston has been inconsistent without him.

Auburn had a real upset with Iowa State on paper. The Tigers were always better than the seed, while Iowa was not. The Hokies under Fran McCaffery never had a long run in the tournament, and this year’s team under Chris Murray was no different. The SEC surpassed the Big Ten. There is no way around it. And Auburn could get a few more shots late in the game if needed. Late in the game in the nightcap, it was obvious how tired Northern Kentucky was. A team with better playing conditions than Houston, which will be every team the Cougars will see the rest of the season, will be able to take better advantage of a prone, unmotivated team. And while the lack of drive isn’t a reality for UH, it didn’t show against the Norse. It also has a big chance for redemption against Auburn. But nothing is guaranteed. And Bruce Pearl-coached teams usually don’t let up when given such an opportunity.

It’s unclear if Sasser will play at 7:10 PM on TBS and head to the Sweet 16. It’s clear he won’t be at full health if he plays, which is already below what we’ve come to expect from the Cougars for most of this season. Auburn is a team that has gone through a lot of adversity this season and still found a safe path to March Madness. It’s a different kind of trap to define Houston’s plight. To say the Cougars haven’t been through either would be silly. Their ways of resistance have been tested in games, with more tangible rewards like 11 more wins than the Tigers this season, on the road. That would mean less Saturday night in Birmingham, a short 110-mile trip from Auburn. And it might not be a home game for PC, but it should look like one from the crowd. Houston is going into enemy territory and I don’t think it will be strong enough to make it out of the primetime game with a season to play.

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