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No. 8 Iowa vs. No. 9 Auburn preview for March Madness First Round matchup

No. 8 Iowa Hawkeyes and No. 9 Auburn Tigers face off in the First Round of the 2023 NCAA tournament. We’ve got an initial preview of the game and how to watch.

Nebraska v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

The NCAA Tournament begins on Tuesday, March 14th with the First Four, and then moves on to the First Round on Thursday, March 16 and Friday, March 17. The No. 8 seed Iowa Hawkeyes will face the No. 9 seed Auburn Tigers on Thursday, March 16.

Here’s an early look at what we can expect from the matchup.

Once 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: Thursday, March 16
Game time: 6:50 p.m. ET
TV channel: TNT
Location: Birmingham, AL

Odds: Auburn -1

No. 8 Iowa

Iowa lost its first three conference games only to rebound and finish tied for fifth in the Big Ten’s regular season standings. Kris Murray led the way for the Hawkeyes, scoring 20.5 points per game to go along with eight rebounds per contest. Overwhelmingly, Iowa relies on its athletic forwards to power the offense; four of the team’s five leading scorers play in the front court.

After scoring 90+ points in three of its final six regular-season games, it’s clear Iowa has the offensive firepower to hang with any team. Issues may arise, however, on defense and the boards. The Hawkeyes ranked dead last in the Big Ten, allowing 74.5 points per game and struggled on the boards, posting a mere +1.7 rebounds per game differential. Neither metric is a recipe for tournament success, but if opposing teams allow games to become shootouts, the Hawkeyes could make some noise.

Record: 19-13, 11-9 Big Ten

Coach: Fran McCaffery

Qualifier: At-large

KenPom overall: 37

KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 3

KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 166

Pace: 66

PPP overall: 1.118

Leading scorer: Kris Murray

NET: 39

Quad 1 record: 4-7

Against The Spread: 17-15-0

Over Total: 19-13-0

Odds to win NCAA Championship: +12000

No. 9 Auburn

Although Auburn closed the regular season with a 79-70 win over No. 12 Tennessee, the Tigers did not exactly go out on a high note. They won just four of their last 13 contests, including an opening loss to Arkansas in the SEC Tournament, severely hurting their tournament stock. The Tigers’ lack of offensive firepower has surely been a contributing factor to its recent struggles: Forward Johni Broome, the team’s leading scorer, averages a paltry 14 points per game.

The good news is that if Auburn still manages to sneak into the tournament, they will have been battle tested by an SEC that has been one of the nation’s top conferences this season. But they may have to win ugly come tournament time given their limited offensive firepower.

Record: 20-12, 10-8 SEC

Coach: Bruce Pearl

Qualifier: At-large

KenPom overall: 29

KenPom adjusted offensive efficiency: 48

KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency: 29

Pace: 165

PPP overall: 1.030

Leading scorer: Johni Broome

NET: 32

Quad 1 record: 3-10

Against The Spread: 15-17-0

Over Total: 19-13-0

Odds to win NCAA Championship: +10000