The first two full days of March Madness always bring exciting matchups, and the games between the eight and nine seeds are often some of the best.
Iowa (19-13) takes on Auburn (20-12) in the 8-9 game in the Midwest region. It is sure to be a thriller. The winner will likely play the formidable No. 1 seed Houston Cougars (31-3) in the second round.
The game will take place in Legacy Arena in Birmingham, Alabama.
Iowa last made the Sweet 16 in 1999. Auburn found recent success with a Final Four run in 2019.
Last season, Iowa fell in an upset in the first round to No. 12 seed Richmond. Auburn won its first game over No. 15 seed Jacksonville State and was then upset by No. 10 seed Miami.
Auburn coach Bruce Pearl has a 16-11 career record in the NCAA Tournament. He has taken teams to the second weekend of the Big Dance five times in his career, once with Auburn.
Iowa coach Fran McCaffrey is 6-9 in the NCAA Tournament. He has been at the helm at Iowa since 2010. He has never made it to the Sweet 16.
Who will move on in this evenly matched contest and how can you watch the game?
How to Watch and Timings
Date: Thursday March 16,
Time: 6:45pm Eastern Time
Stream: March Madness Live/MM Live app or Watch TNT app
Both teams come into this game after rocky ends to their seasons.
The Auburn Tigers have lost seven of their last 10 games, limping toward the finish line in the deep Southeastern Conference. Bruce Pearl and his team will have a huge advantage with a likely loud and favorable crowd. The Auburn campus is just a two-hour drive from Birmingham.
The Tigers will need to rely on their stiff defense. Auburn ranks 10th in the country in blocks per game (5.2) and is led by sophomore forward Johni Broome (2.3 bpg). The do-it-all big man is also Auburn’s leading scorer and rebounder. Broome will need a big game for Auburn to control the pace of the game and advance.
The Iowa Hawkeyes come into this game as losers in four of their previous six games in the rugged Big Ten.
Although Iowa could pose a matchup problem for Auburn as the Hawkeyes love a higher-paced game. Iowa is 17th in the nation in scoring with 80.6 points per game. They also take care of the ball as the 29th best team in the country in turnover margin.
Iowa junior guard Kris Murray, brother of NBA rookie Keegan Murray, is the 20th leading scorer in the country with 20.4 ppg. Murray could be the experienced guard who carries Iowa through to the next round.
Spread: Auburn (-1)
Total (O/U): 152.5
Moneyline: Iowa (+100) vs Auburn (-120)
Ten of Iowa’s 13 losses have come away from home. The atmosphere in Birmingham will be raucous, and although Iowa fans travel well, the crowd will be a sea of orange and navy for Auburn. Unless Murray can pull off some heroics, Auburn’s size and defense should combine nicely with the energetic crowd to give Auburn the edge in this first-round matchup.
Auburn 77 - Iowa 72