Unbeaten Auburn Laying 8 to NC State in First Real Test of the Season

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Can Auburn remain unbeaten at home against a solid NC State squad? Photo by Carter Michaels (Wiki Commons)

  • No. 12 Auburn (9-0) faces its toughest test yet against NC State
  • Unranked NC State (8-2) have won three-straight and has lost twice by six total points
  • Both teams rank in the top 20 in offensive efficiency

No. 12 Auburn, one of just four unbeaten teams left among 353 Division I basketball programs, probably wants a little more respect. Despite a perfect start and Power 5 status, the Tigers have yet to crack the top ten of the AP poll.

On Thursday, Auburn will have a prime opportunity to show that it belongs in the conversation of the nation’s elite, hosting unranked NC State (8-2). Somehow, Auburn still isn’t among the top end teams in the 2020 NCAA Tournament odds — but a win against the Wolfpack could certainly change that.

The Wolfpack are getting eight points heading to Alabama in the NC State vs. Auburn odds.

NC State vs. Auburn Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total at BetOnline
NC State +8.0 (-105) +270 Over 151.5 (-110)
#12 Auburn -8.0 (-115) -340 Under 151.5 (-110)

Odds taken Dec. 18

Who’ve They Played?

OK, it’s not a total mystery that Auburn is stuck outside the top ten. No offense to their nine opponents, but the Tigers haven’t really played anyone yet. Their top-ranked foe, according to KenPom.com, was Richmond (No. 69), a team they beat comfortably a few weeks ago.

To be fair, Auburn hasn’t played a bunch of doormats either. Only two of their opponents were ranked outside KenPom’s top 150 (Cal. State Northridge and Georgia Southern). Other than that, it’s been a schedule of mediocrity.

Auburn has handled its business though, with an average victory margin of 15.9 points. But NC State, ranked No. 35 by KenPom, definitely figures to be its toughest test yet. Auburn, for interest’s sake, is only ranked No. 17 by KenPom.

Near Misses For Wolfpack

An 8-2 record is nice, but NC State is actually only a few bounces short of being 10-0. On opening night, the Wolfpack lost by one point in overtime to Georgia Tech — a game they led for the first 37 minutes.

A few weeks later, NC State lost by five to Memphis. The Wolfpack took an early lead, trailed by as many as 19 and cut the lead down to three in the final two minutes.

Other than that, NC State has been largely dominant over its competition, with six of its eight wins coming by 15 points or more. No victories over KenPom top-50 teams, but three wins vs. teams in the top 100 (Wisconsin, Wake Forest and UNC Greensboro).

Then again, their latest win over UNC Greensboro required some drama.

2020 CFP National Championship Odds Tracker

ATS Analysis

The Wolfpack are 6-4 against the spread this season, but they’ll be in uncharted territory in this matchup because they’ve yet to be the underdog.

The Tigers also haven’t been the underdog yet, but of course that doesn’t matter in this matchup. They are 5-4 ATS, which includes consecutive losses as double-digit favorites.

It’s worth noting that NC State has four consecutive wins over teams with at least a .600 winning percentage, while Auburn has lost four-straight ATS against teams with a winning road record (and NC State is 2-0 on the road this year).

Decision Time

Auburn, as an unbeaten team with a boatload of blowout victories, is rightfully the favorite in this matchup. But eight points might be a lot to cover against a feisty NC State team that has only lost twice — and lost close both times.

Even if you think Auburn will win straight up, it’s a dangerous spread they’ll have to cover. That’s why I’m leaning with the Wolfpack.

Pick: NC State, +8.0 (-105)

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