The Auburn Tigers basketball team entered the season with high expectations.
The team was returning talent from last year’s squad that made it to the NCAA Tournament.
But, frankly, the Final Four was never in the wildest dreams of Auburn fans and analysts who dissect every aspect of players and teams.
War Eagle! The fans and the so-called sports experts were wrong. Welcome to the Final Four.
For the first time in school history, Auburn is in the glaring spotlight, where four remaining Division 1 teams will clash for the right to be called the best – 2019 national champions.
Coach Bruce Pearl’s team has won 12 straight games, including four to win the SEC Tournament and four more in the Big Dance.
The journey, especially in the NCAA Tournament, was not easy. However, after squeaking by New Mexico State, the Tigers beat three blue bloods – Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky.
It was never supposed to happen this way, but this team is special.
Dynamic players such as Bryce Brown and Jared Harper have shot lights out from 3-point land and lead a team that loves to go fast when the opportunity presents itself.
Even without the team’s best player, Chuma Okeke, who was sidelined with a serious knee injury against North Carolina, the Tigers prevailed over the talented and favored Kentucky to advance to the Final Four.
This Auburn team has reached heights never before seen in our state by any college team.
A talented No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers team, gritty and steeped in history, awaits Auburn for the 5:09 p.m. Saturday tipoff.
Virginia has played rugged defense this season, which paid off against an explosive Purdue Boilermakers squad, to advance to Minneapolis. Auburn is also an aggressive competitor on defense, which makes for an exciting matchup.
Whether it will be a tight defensive struggle or a reversal into a shootout, which likely favors Auburn, the stage is set for an epic showdown. The winner will move forward to the title game and chance at basketball immortality.
Whether you bleed Orange or Blue or pull for the Crimson Tide or another state school, the Tigers’ Final Four run should make fans across Alabama feel a sense of pride.
Here’s hoping Auburn’s dream season stays the course Saturday. And, if the streak can somehow continue for two games, Toomer’s Corner will be the place to be Monday night.