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No. 2 Auburn vs. No. 15 Jacksonville State preview for March Madness first-round matchup

The No. 2 Auburn and No. 15 Jacksonville State face off in the first round of the 2022 NCAA tournament. We’ve got an initial preview of what and how to watch following Selection Sunday.

Auburn Tigers forward Jabari Smith (10) attempts a free throw against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second half at Neville Arena. Smith scored 21 points for the Tigers as they went on to win the regular season SEC championship. John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

The NCAA Tournament begins on Tuesday, March 15th with the First Four, and then moves on to the first round on Thursday, March 17 and Friday, March 18. No. 2 seed Auburn will face No. 15 seed Jacksonville State in the first round on Friday. Here’s an early look at what we can expect from the Tigers and Gamecocks in this year’s March Madness Tournament.

Once the odds from DraftKings Sportsbook are made available for this game, we’ll add that information below. We’ll also add the game time and TV channel once it’s settled.

Game date: Friday, March 18
Game time: 12:40 p.m. ET
TV channel: truTV
Location: Greenville, SC, Bon Secours Wellness Arena

Odds: Auburn -17

No. 2 Auburn

Auburn is one of the most fun teams to watch in the nation. Bruce Pearl led the Tigers to their first-ever AP No. 1 ranking this year. They’re led by one of the best players in the country in Jabari Smith, who averages 17.1 points and 6.9 rebounds per game. Smith and Walker Kessler in the frontcourt with K.D. Johnson and Wendell Green Jr. in the backcourt and it makes for an extremely tough lineup.

Record: 27-5, 15-3 SEC
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 24
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 8
Against The Spread: 19-12-1
Over Total: 18-14-0
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +1600

No. 15 Jacksonville State

Jacksonville State is the answer to a trivia question: Name the team that qualified for the 2022 NCAA Tournament out of a one-bid league without winning its conference tournament? Bellarmine took home the Atlantic Sun Conference Tournament title but is ineligible for the Big Dance because it hasn’t completed its four-year transition period to Division I. So, the Jacksonville State Gamecocks, who were eliminated in the tourney’s semifinals, earned the automatic bid as the A-Sun’s regular-season champ.

The Gamecocks will live and die by the 3-pointer. They attempt 24 per game but make 38.2 percent of them, the 11th-best rate in Division I. Guards Darian Adams, Demaree King and Jalen Gibbs have all drained at least 65 treys this season. This program is making its second NCAA Tournament appearance in five seasons under head coach Ray Harper. And put this in the weird stat file: Opponents are making 77.4% of their free throws versus the Gamecocks, the fourth-best percentage in Division I

Record: 21-10, 13-3 A-Sun
KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 132
KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 178
Against The Spread: 17-12
Over Total: 14-15
Odds to win NCAA Championship: +100000