3. Auburn (13-2, 2-0)
Things have been going swimmingly for Auburn basketball since Bruce Pearl took the reins nearly a decade ago. The Final Four run in 2019 remains the highlight but wasn’t the only success, with the Tigers appearing in four of the last five NCAA Tournaments. Last year’s team won 21 games and settled for a 9-seed, though this year’s team looks significantly better in the early going.
An early loss to Baylor was tough, but the Tigers have had very few missteps this season. The shocking moment came in early December when Auburn went to Appalachian State and left town with a bitter loss. Since then, the Tigers have run off 8 straight wins that have included a 28-point win against Indiana, a double-digit win against USC, and two SEC wins. The Tigers have come out on top far more often than not this season and looked dominant against the Razorbacks less than a week ago.
There are no complaints about the way Johni Broome and Jaylin Williams are playing this season and there are several other valuable contributors to this hot start. Not only do the advanced metrics love the Tigers this season, but their defense has really picked up in conference play, allowing less than 60 points in those first two outings. They have a slew of winnable games in the weeks ahead but start to get really tested in late January.