Auburn Tigers vs. Kansas Jayhawks Pick

March 23, 9:40 PM EDT

Betting Odds

Point Spread: 
Auburn -2.5

The Auburn Tigers and Kansas Jayhawks handled business in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and will take on each other in the second round in Salt Lake City. Auburn (27-9) came into the tournament riding a hot streak of eight games. Their overall record earned them a No. 5 seed with a first-round matchup against No. 12 New Mexico State. The Tigers are listed at -2 in this game over Kansas.

Messy End to Game

Missed free throws and a late pass cost New Mexico State an early exit, as Auburn got away with a 78-77 win. The Tigers led by as many as 13 midways through the second half, and a three-point play from J'Von McCormick gave Auburn a 73-65 lead with 2:13 left.

Two turnovers, two missed free throws and two Aggies 3-pointers later, the Tigers were fighting for their lives, hoping Terrell Brown, a 78-percent free-throw shooter who had more attempts from the line than anyone on his team this season would miss at least one. He missed two.

"Until you get in that moment, you don't know how you're going to react," Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said when asked about the Tigers' near meltdown.

Auburn had attempted 1,052 3-pointers this season – third most in the country – and kept it going.

All but two of Auburn's six field goals over the final 11 minutes were from 3, and one of those resulted in McCormick's three-point play. The Tigers went 12 for 31 from behind the arc. Jared Harper made all four of his in the second half and led Auburn with 17 points.

Not that the Tigers would trade the SEC Tournament title they won last week. But it is taking its toll. This was Auburn's fifth game in eight days, and the Tigers nearly collapsed at the end.

“Bryce was exhausted at the end of that game,” Pearl said. “We had to play hard because of the way New Mexico State plays. Our Kids were popped at the end.”

Jayhawks Looking to Advance Again

Kansas, with all its ups and downs this season, was a popular pick to be on the NCAA Tournament’s first big upsets.

As high seeds like Auburn and Michigan had tense moments in their openers, the Jayhawks soared into the next round.

Dedric Lawson had 25 points, and 11 rebounds, and Kansas dominated inside for an 87-54 rout over Northeastern Thursday in the Midwest Region.

“I thought our guys were as locked in as they’ve been all year,” Kansas coach Bill Self said.

Devon Dotson controlled the offense and scored 18 points, while Dedric’s brother, K.J., chipped in 13 points. Kansas shot 56 percent and look to get that same effort against Auburn.

“We were settling for 3s early in the game,” K.J. Lawson said. “Once we settled in, everybody was in attack mode and had a great performance today.”

It was no shock Kansas made the NCAA Tournament with this its 30th straight year in the bracket. But the Jayhawks find themselves in an unfamiliar seeding as a No. 4 seed when they're usually a 1 or 2.

Auburn vs Kansas Prediction 03/23/2019

Kansas did what it usually does as a high seed in the NCAA Tournament, stretching its opening-game winning streak to 13 games. This should be a great game, but in the end, we are taking the team that has been there and done that before. Kansas wins as the underdog.

Free Pick: 
Bet the Jayhawks +2