It's been over 30 years since the Auburn Tigers appeared in the Elite Eight. Standing in their way in the Sweet 16 are the North Carolina Tar Heels, who are heavy favorites. But one analyst thinks that a few factors could have a big role in a potential Auburn upset.
Per 247Sports, ESPN college basketball analyst Jay Bilas revealed that Auburn has one advantage it can use against the Tar Heels: Scoring three-pointers in bunches.
However, Bilas also made it clear that Auburn needs to do better on defensive rebounds as the Tar Heels thrive on their ability to get second chances.
“Auburn has won 10 in a row over that stretch by making 12 threes a game, so they're not going to have to increase the tempo like they do with most teams … Carolina loves playing there,” Bilas said. “Not only do they have to shoot it well, which is the key, but they’ve got to rebound. Carolina is an excellent offensive rebounding team and Auburn is not a great defensive rebounding team.
"If they allow second shots, North Carolina is going to beat them."
The Tigers have made a habit out of taking three-point shots, attempting 30 in each of their NCAA Tournament games. They went 12-of-31 in their narrow 78-77 win over New Mexico State in the First Round, and then went 13-of-30 in their 89-75 blowout win over Kansas in the Second Round.
But the lack of offensive rebounds has been a potential problem even in the tournament. Auburn has recorded only six in each of the two games.
Auburn's last meeting against the Tar Heels in the NCAA Tournament came in the 1985 Sweet 16. North Carolina won that game 62-56.
But the following year, Auburn made its first-ever trip to the Elite Eight, beating No. 4 UNLV as an eight-seed in the Sweet 16.
The game will be played tonight at 7:29 p.m. EST and will air on TBS.