Teams: Syracuse Orange (3-2, 0-0) vs. No. 19 Auburn Tigers (4-1, 0-0)
Day & Time: Friday, November 26, 4:30 pm ET
Location: Imperial Arena, Paradise Island, Bahamas
Line: The Orange are five-point underdogs at the moment, per DraftKings (odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details).
TV/Streaming: ESPN2, WatchESPN
Radio: Cuse.com, TK 99/105, WAER 88.3
Rivalry: 1-0, Syracuse
Current Streak: 1, Syracuse
First/Last Meeting: Syracuse and Auburn have only met once, and it was a good memory for Syracuse. The Orange narrowly beat the Tigers 79-78 in the Sweet 16 of the 2003 NCAA tournament, with Carmelo Anthony leading the way with 18 points. You probably know what happened later that year.
Head Coaches: Syracuse - Jim Boeheim (46th year, 1,086-411) | Auburn - Bruce Pearl (eighth year, 106-86)
Coach Bio: Pearl was a manager at Boston College in college. His first job right out of BC were assistant coaching jobs at Stanford and Iowa. His first head coaching job was in Division II with Southern Indiana. The program always won at least 22 games under Pearl and won the Division II national championship in 1995. Pearl returned to Division I in 2001 with Milwaukee. After his first season in charge, the Panthers won at least 20 games in Pearl’s final three seasons, making the NCAA tournament two times. In 2005, Pearl led Milwaukee to the Sweet 16, with upsets over Alabama and Boston College.
Pearl moved on after 2005 to take the Tennessee head coaching job. The Volunteers immediately found success with Pearl at helm, winning at least 21 games in his first six seasons in charge. He stayed at Tennessee for seven years, making the NCAA tournament every year, including one Elite Eight. Pearl was fired in 2011 regarding recruiting violations surrounding Aaron Craft and additional NCAA violations.
Pearl rebounded in 2014, taking the Auburn job. The Tigers struggled early on, finishing below .500 in his first two seasons in charge. Afterwards, Auburn surged and made back-to-back NCAA tournaments in 2018 and 2019 with over 25 wins in both seasons. The Tigers made the Final Four in 2019 before losing to eventual national champions Virginia.
Last Year: After finishing with at least 25 wins in the past three seasons, the Tigers struggled, finishing 11th in the conference with a 7-11 record and a 13-14 overall record. Auburn didn’t participate in postseason play after a self-imposed ban related to former Auburn assistant Chuck Person’s involvement in the 2017-18 corruption scandal.
Last Game: After an emotional double OT loss to UConn in the first round of the Battle 4 Atlantis, Auburn rebounded with a 62-53 win over Loyola Chicago. After a high scoring first half, both teams shot under 40% in the second half.
“Fear Me, I’ve Killed Hundreds of Timelords”: Jabari Smith Jr. joined Auburn as the program’s highest ever rated recruit, being a consensus five-star and top-10 player by all recruiting services. Not only is he one of two Auburn players to average over 15 points per game, he is tied for the team lead with 7.4 rebounds per game.
If Syracuse Wins: Baylor is lucky they didn’t face Syracuse.
If Syracuse Loses: Auburn was just lucky Syracuse didn’t have Carmelo this time around.
Fun Fact: Both Auburn and Syracuse have five former players in the NBA. You know the Orange players in Carmelo Anthony, Oshae Brissett, Michael Carter-Williams, Jerami Grant and Elijah Hughes. The Tigers alumni are Sharife Cooper, Davion Mitchell, Chuma Okeke, Issac Okoro and JT Thor.