Busting Brackets
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SEC Basketball power rankings: Alabama rises, Kentucky and Arkansas drops

LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - NOVEMBER 12: Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Robert Morris Colonials at Rupp Arena on November 12, 2021 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY - NOVEMBER 12: Head coach John Calipari of the Kentucky Wildcats reacts in the first half against the Robert Morris Colonials at Rupp Arena on November 12, 2021 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Auburn Basketball
SEC Basketball Bruce Pearl Auburn Tigers (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /

8-1. . Tigers . 2. team. 525.

Auburn received some major news this week in the form of four years probation and a two-game suspension for Head Coach Bruce Pearl, of which he has already served one game. That game came against Nebraska, which the Tigers beat by 31 points on a neutral court. The NCAA accepted Auburn’s self-imposed postseason ban from last season which means that they will be eligible for the NCAA Tournament in 2022.

Jabari Smith has been phenomenal to start the season, averaging 17.3 PPG and 6.9 RPG on 56.9% shooting. A top 10 recruit in the class of 2021, Smith could very well be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Smith is 6-10, can switch and guard multiple positions defensively, and can handle the ball and stretch the floor offensively (44.7% 3P). His current ability is special but his potential is almost otherworldly. Georgia transfer G K.D. Johnson has also been excellent to start the season, averaging 15.1 PPG, second on the team behind Smith.

In typical Bruce Pearl fashion, this team plays fast and shoots a lot of threes, but perhaps their most important stat is their No. 12 national ranking in lowest turnover rate. Starting G Zep Jasper can claim a heavy influence on that number, ranking first in the SEC in assist-to-turnover ratio. Defensively, they rank No. 8 in steal percentage and No. 20 in defensive efficiency, per KenPom.

Pearl’s second game of his two-game suspension will come against North Alabama on Tuesday night, a game that Auburn should easily win despite his absence. He will return for a potentially difficult road test at Saint Louis.

Auburn went to the Final Four in 2019 and 25-6 in the COVID-shortened 2019-20 season before having a down season in 2020-21. This season will see them return to prior form, competing to win the SEC and eyeing another deep NCAA Tournament run.