Don't look at seeding for the best team here
By KEITH NIEBUHR, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 21, 2003
The 7-10 game usually produces an upset or two. Since the field expanded in 1985, the 10th seed is 29-43 in the first round. This shouldn't come as a surprise.
After all, the difference between a seventh seed and a 10th seed often is minimal. That certainly appears to be the case with Saint Joseph's and Auburn.
Saint Joseph's has the better record. Auburn played in the better conference.
Saint Joseph's has one of the country's top backcourts. Auburn has one of the best frontlines.
Saint Joseph's has a dynamite 3-point shooter. Auburn has a spectacular perimeter defender.
Everything one team has, the other counters with something equally strong. Both have veteran coaches. Both are fighting for respect.
Yeah, you could say that.
An Auburn win wouldn't be a huge upset.
Auburn's RPI is No.36, according to collegerpi.com, nine spots behind the Hawks, who have three more wins. And despite what Auburn critics have said, its strength of schedule was a more-than-respectable 27th. Saint Joseph's schedule is 86th.
Auburn played some nonconference cream puffs, but you can't forget about the Tigers' 8-8 SEC record, which put them one game behind West champion Mississippi State, a team some pundits have picked to reach the Final Four.
The Tigers are 4-8 against tournament teams. That's not great, but at least shows they can beat a decent team.
Another good omen for Auburn: It has won six straight first-round games. The last time it lost opening day was 1984.
The Hawks have a nice recent NCAA history, too.
They reached the third round in 1997 and the second in 2001. This year's team wasn't expected to get this far, but shocked many by winning the Atlantic 10 Conference regular-season title. And don't forget, Saint Joseph's ended Gonzaga's 29-game home win streak.
No Auburn victory stacks up to that one. Fact is, this game could go either way. But with Delonte West potentially not 100 percent and Auburn wanting to prove its skeptics wrong, another 7-10 upset could happen.
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