LSU vs. Auburn NCAA Basketball Picks and Predictions

Darius Days of LSU shoots while guarded by Terrance Williams II of Michigan. Justin Casterline/Getty Images/AFP

Though college football is occupying a lot of space on bettor’s radar this week, this showdown between No. 16 LSU and No. 11 Auburn is worth watching on another device tonight.

On ESPN2 Wednesday night, there are four ranked teams from the Southeastern Conference doing battle. Though they both figure to be excellent contests, the first matchup seems to have a little more pizzazz with unbeaten LSU traveling to the plains of Alabama to take on once-beaten Auburn. 

Both have faced a mixture of bunnies that piled up victories. Along with those, they were smaller favorites versus the betting odds and they still managed to win.

LSU Tigers vs. Auburn Tigers

Wednesday, December 29, 2021 – 07:00 PM EST at Auburn Arena

Sportsbooks like BetRivers have the home-standing Auburn Tigers as four-point favorites with the total at 140. Both these teams have a defense-first mode and they place a great deal of on-ball pressure that leads to turnovers and in turn, points.

Trying to Find Differences Between These Rivals is Hard to Do

LSU is one of five teams, at this level, that has yet to lose at 12-0 and they have done so in impressive fashion, sporting a 10-2 ATS mark. They have covered spreads as low as -6.5 (Belmont) to extremely chalky -35.5 (Northwestern State).

The backcourt matchup should be special with LSU’s Xavier Pinson and Eric Gaines battling it out against Auburn’s K.D. Johnson and Wendell Green Jr.

Pinson and Gaines are LSU’s third and fifth leading point producers respectively and they combined to hand out more than eight assists per contest. Both are excellent at thievery, averaging better than two steals a game.

Johnson and Green Jr. are the second and third best scorers for coach Bruce Pearl’s squad and both tend to be streaky shooters. This alone would be worth watching.

The frontcourt confrontations will be even better. LSU coach Will Wade has leading scorers Tari Eason and Darius Days to do damage in the lane and center Efton Reid is a 6’11 freshman who protects the rim and goes after rebounds.

That trio will have their hands full with Auburn freshman sensation Jabari Smith, who is and potential top-five pick in the upcoming NBA Draft.

At 6’10, he hits 45.6 percent from behind the arc making him almost impossible to match up size-wise. Add in North Carolina transfer Walker Kessler and it will be a heavyweight fight among the big boys.

The Nuts and Bolts of This Battle

As mentioned, defense is what fuels these clubs. Auburn (11-1, 8-4 ATS) holds teams to 64.9 points a game on only 38.7 percent accuracy. These Tigers attack the dribbler and are well aware of all passing lanes in averaging 17 forced turnovers a game. If you want to come in the lane, good luck as Pearl’s crew blocks seven shots a contest.

LSU does even better from a points and shooting percentage basis at just 54.1 PPG and 34.1%. The Bayou Tigers average an incredible 19 forced turnovers and swat away five shot attempts per outing.

LSU is the stronger rebounding crew (+8 to +4) and shoots for a modestly better average (46.3% vs. 44.5%). Auburn’s edge is they make three more three’s a game and that is worth nine points if both hit their average.

What is the Best Side to Be On?

In the SEC skirmish of Tigers for our college basketball picks, we are favoring LSU. Yes, they have the bullseye on their back without a loss and Auburn is revenge-minded having lost at Baton Rouge 104-80 last season.

Regardless, we like the overall balance of LSU and as long as they don’t allow Porter to just go off, that should be enough to keep this a two-point outcome either way. With the team in purple and gold 6-0 ATS when playing with six or more days rest the last three seasons, they are our choice.

NCAAB Pick: LSU +4 (-109) at BetRivers