The No. 2 seed Wildcats face the No. 5 seed Tigers in the Midwest Regional finalOne prominent conference showdown will be featured in the Elite Eight on Sunday when Auburn and Kentucky will clash. No. 5 seed Auburn stunned No. 1 seed North Carolina 97-80 in the Midwest Regional semifinals on Friday night to advance to its first Watch
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regional final since 1986 on Friday. Chuma Okeke led the Tigers with 20 points in the victory, but unfortunately suffered a torn ACL in the second half. The injury, of course, will keep the star out the rest of the way here in March Madness. Auburn has relied on hitting 3-pointers and forcing turnovers. In the win over UNC, it made 17 3-pointers, with eight different players contributing to the barrage.No. 2 seed Kentucky is in its seventh Elite Eight in 10 years. It defeated No. 3 seed Houston 62-58 in the Sweet 16. Freshman Tyler Herro scored 19 points, including five in the final 30 seconds. PJ Washington returned from injury and scored 16 points off the bench. Kentucky has been one of the best teams in the tournament at getting to the free throw line and it has knocked down 79 percent of its shots from there.A trip to the Final Four in the 2019 NCAA Tournament is up for grabs on Sunday in Kansas City as the Kentucky Wildcats take on the Auburn Tigers in a familiar Elite 8 showdown at 2:20 p.m. ET on CBS. No. 2 seed Kentucky (30-6) and 5-seed Auburn (29-9) have met twice this season, with the Wildcats winning both matchups. But few teams are as hot as the Tigers, who handled top-seeded North Carolina 97-80 in Friday's Sweet 16 matchup. The latest Auburn vs. Kentucky odds show the Wildcats favored by 4.5, with an over-under for total points set at 140.5, down four from the opener. Auburn beat Kansas and North Carolina to get this far, but Kentucky beat both those teams in the regular season and handled the Tigers twice. That's why before laying any Auburn vs. Kentucky picks of your own, you'll want to see the 2019 Elite 8 predictions from Hammerin' Hank Goldberg, the iconic Vegas sharp.The legendary handicapper entered the Sweet 16 of the 2019 NCAA Tournament scorching hot. He's 30-16 in his recent college basketball picks, a stunning 65 percent cash rate that's returned more than $1,200 to $100 players. That includes nailing five covers by double-digit seeds in the opening round.Now, Hammer is locked in on Kentucky vs. Auburn. Hammer has won four-straight picks involving Auburn, including Friday night's 97-80 win over top-seeded North Carolina (at +5). He also took Kentucky (-3) Friday in its 62-58 victory over Houston. Now he's revealed his against-the-spread pick for Sunday only over at SportsLine. Hammer has taken into account that Auburn is a prolific 3-point shooting team, ranking 14th in the country at 38.5 percent. But Kentucky held down Wofford, which ranked No. 2 in the nation (41.4 percent), in the second round. And the Wildcats held the Tigers to 9-of-27 shooting the last time these teams met, an 80-53 rout.Sophomore leader P.J. Washington returned Friday after missing the opening two rounds with a foot injury and was a difference-maker. The Wildcats' leading scorer and rebounder (14.8 points, 7.4 boards) had 16 points off the bench, and freshman Tyler Herro scored 19, including the huge 3-pointer with 26 seconds left that put UK on top in a 62-58 win over No. 3 Houston. The Tigers will be without forward Chuma Okeke (ACL), who was lost for the remainder of the NCAA Tournament 2019 in Auburn's win over UNC.But just because the Wildcats have beaten the Tigers twice already this season doesn't mean they can cover the Kentucky vs. Auburn spread. Auburn was blown out at Rupp on Feb. 23, but since that loss, they've won 11 in a row, including two wins over Tennessee and NCAA Tournament victories over Kansas and North Carolina. They've won games scoring in the 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s in that span.They have one of the most dynamic guard combos in the nation in Bryce Brown and Jared Harper. Led by that duo, Auburn ranks No. 2 in the nation by scoring 34.9 percent of its points from behind the 3-point line. Auburn shoots 38.5 percent on threes, 14th-best in the nation. Meanwhile, Kentucky ranks just 179th in 3-point defense.Hammer knows every tendency of these opposing coaches and identified a critical x-factor that makes one side of the spread a must-back. He's only sharing what it is, and who to back, at SportsLine.
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