Forecast Calls for Raining Threes Between Auburn and Ole Miss

Rainman M.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018 3:44 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018 3:44 PM UTC

No. 11 Auburn opened as 4.5-point road favorites tonight at Ole Miss, with the total at 165. Should bettors expect the matchup to proceed differently than Auburn's 85-70 win on January 9?

Tuesday College Basketball: Auburn vs. Ole MissFree NCAAB Pick: Over 163Best Line Offered: Bookmaker

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Auburn's new-look squad has already exceeded its win total from last year (18). This year's lineup boasts four players who average double figures.

Shooting guard Bryce Brown leads Auburn (19-2 SU) with 16.3 points per game. He's one of three Tigers who rank in the top 350 in three-point completion percentage, one of four in the top 400 in free-throw completion and one of two in the top 200 in turnover rate. Despite his significant statistical improvement from last season, Auburn has scored 90+ in its past two games rather despite than because of him.

Power forward Mustapha Heron exemplifies the versatility of Auburn's "big" men. Last game, Heron completed four shots from three and four from inside the arc. He is second on the team with 15.3 points per game.

Point guard Jared Harper and small forward Desean Murray rank third and fourth on the team in points per game, respectively. Whereas Harper is dangerous from the free-throw line and behind the arc and is a top-notch distributor who ranks 70th in assist rate, Murray is physical inside and achieves many second-chance baskets. He leads AU with seven rebounds per game despite playing only 22.7 minutes per game because of the talent of Auburn's deep bench.

For Ole Miss (11-10 SU), senior point guard Deandre Burnett is the team's leader with 15.2 points per game. He was sorely missed in the team's initial matchup against Auburn and is coming off of back-to-back 20+ point games. Last season he ranked 488th in three-point completion percentage, but this season he ranks 289th. He is also a much better distributor, ranking 85th in assist rate. Here's a sample of what Ole Miss missed in its first game against Auburn:

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The Rebels boast four other players who average 9.9 points or more per game and three who rank in the top 500 in assist rate. Center Bruce Stevens is one of those reliable scorers. He will be the biggest starter on the court. With his size, he can improve his 136th-ranked completion percentage from two.

The Verdict

Ole Miss, which ranks 32nd in KenPom's offensive efficiency, can score in many ways. Its half-court offense, led by the ball-secure Burnett, ranks 63rd. They don't turn it over often and excel at drawing fouls. They possess the 20th-highest proportion of converted free throws against an Auburn defense that ranks 275th in percentage of opposing free-throw attempts.

Auburn, like Ole Miss, ranks in the top 100 in offensive tempo. They are much more one-dimensional on offense, but Ole Miss' defense caters to that strength. Auburn ranks 59th in three-point completion percentage, while Ole Miss has the 229th-worst perimeter defense, based on proportion of three-point attempts allowed.

In the first meeting, the game went "under" the 163.5 total as the teams combined for 51 threes attempted but shot poorly. Stevens, Ole Miss' top force inside, had 12 points in 12 minutes but fouled out absurdly early.

Tonight's rematch has a slightly higher total of 165 on the college basketball odds board, with oddsmakers still anticipating a high-scoring game. Burnett and Stevens will be important factors for Ole Miss. Two high-paced SEC teams with strong bench play, featuring a three-point scoring machine in Auburn, against a poor perimeter defense and a versatile half-court offense in Ole Miss, should light up the scoreboard for our NCAAB picks.

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