TV Schedule: Saturday, Dec.19, 12:00 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1
Arena: Cintas Center, Cincinnati, OH
Line: Xavier (-16.5)
The Auburn Tigers and head coach Bruce Pearl entered the 2015-16 college basketball season with high expectations, but have struggled against every above-average team that they have faced so far. Bouncing back from a rough lost to an underrated MTSU Blue Raiders’ squad in Nashville with a win over the lowly Mercer Bears, the Tigers travel to Cincinnati with the tough task of upsetting the undefeated No. 10 Xavier Musketeers.
After defeating their in-city rivals the Cincinnati Bearcats, the Musketeers could not be more confident heading into their game with Auburn. With wins over the Michigan Wolverines, Alabama Crimson Tide, USC Trojans and Dayton Flyers, Xavier could simply avoid bad losses in Big East play and make the 2016 NCAA tournament. The pressure is essentially off for Xavier already save for remaining undefeated, and it shows in their free flowing style of play.
The Tigers are one of the best offenses in the nation, but they will meet both a stout defense and prolific offense on Saturday afternoon. Auburn’s defense continues to hemorrhage points, and, despite a likely 20-plus point outing from Kareem Canty, Trevon Bluiett and the Musketeers will absolutely rip apart their much less balanced opponents.
Undefeated and arguably the hottest team in the nation, it will take a massive effort from any team to knock off this talented Xavier squad, and I just do not believe Auburn has it in them. Pearl’s Tigers are still a year away from making the NCAA tournament and will likely go to the NIT. The Tigers put up a fight, but the Musketeers win easily at home.
Prediction: Xavier 85, Auburn 74