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Auburn center Horace Spencer came up big for the Tigers down the stretch.

Auburn basketball bracketology: Nashville isn’t lock for Tigers right now

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AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn basketball knows for sure that it will play in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 15 years next week. Where that first game will take place is still up in the air.

Heading into Championship Week across college basketball, Auburn’s projections are mostly split between No. 2 and No. 3 seeds. A drop to a No. 4 seed seems unlikely, barring a blowout loss in the first round of the SEC Tournament this Friday.

Perhaps more important to Auburn fans, a first-round matchup in Nashville isn’t as much of a lock as it once was, with the two most notable bracketologists — Joe Lunardi and Jerry Palm — picking the Tigers to go to Dallas this week. Nashville and Dallas are the only two widely projected hosts at this point.

MORE: Bruce Pearl: Auburn’s SEC title ‘means more’ because of league’s strength

Here’s a refresher on tournament sites: All eight locations will host two top-4 seeds. The committee will start from the top and put the higher seeds as close to home as possible. The issue is that almost all of the teams ahead of Auburn are on the East Coast, making Nashville a competitive destination.

If Auburn lands a No. 2 seed, Nashville should be in the bag. Auburn’s biggest competition for a Nashville spot will come from Cincinnati and Tennessee. Right now, the Bearcats are the fourth composite No. 2 seed on Bracket Matrix, with the Volunteers just two spots behind Auburn as the third No. 3 seed.

Here’s an update of all the top bracket projections heading into tournament time.

Bracket Matrix

Bracket Matrix is a composite of 117 brackets.

Bracket seed: 3

Overall seed: 9

Highest projection: 2 (44 brackets)

Lowest projection: 4 (5 brackets)

Diehards (Eric Yates)

Bracket seed: 2

Regional: Midwest/Omaha (No. 1 seed Kansas)

First round matchup: College of Charleston

First/second round host: Nashville

ESPN (Joe Lunardi)

Bracket seed: 3

Regional: South/Atlanta (No. 1 seed Virginia)

First round matchup: College of Charleston

First/second round host: Dallas

CBS Sports (Jerry Palm)

Bracket seed: 3

Regional: South/Atlanta (No. 1 seed Virginia)

First round matchup: Bucknell

First/second round host: Dallas

Fox Sports (Howie Schwab)

Bracket seed: 2

Regional: West/Los Angeles (No. 1 seed Kansas)

First round matchup: Lipscomb

First/second round host: N/A

Sports Illustrated (Michael Beller)

Bracket seed: 3

Regional: West/Los Angeles (No. 1 seed Xavier)

First round matchup: Buffalo

First/second round host: N/A

The Athletic (Stewart Mandel)

Bracket seed: 2

Regional: South/Atlanta (No. 1 seed Virginia)

First round matchup: Penn

First/second round host: Nashville

USA Today (Shelby Mast)

Bracket seed: 3

Regional: South/Atlanta (No. 1 seed Virginia)

First round matchup: UNC Greensboro

First/second round host: Nashville

Bleacher Report (Kerry Miller)

Bracket seed: 3

Regional: West/Los Angeles (No. 1 seed Villanova)

First round matchup: UNC Greensboro

First/second round host: N/A

Bracket Forecast (Rusty Tutton)

Bracket seed: 3

Regional: South/Atlanta (No. 1 seed Virginia)

First round matchup: Montana

First/second round host: Nashville

The Comeback (Jesse Kramer)

Bracket seed: 2

Regional: South/Atlanta (No. 1 seed Virginia)

First round matchup: Lipscomb

First/second round host: Nashville

RealTimeRPI

Bracket seed: 2

Regional: South/Atlanta (No. 1 seed Virginia)

First round matchup: UC Davis

First/second round host: N/A

Rotowire (Adam Zdroik)

Bracket seed: 2

Regional: Midwest/Omaha (No. 1 seed Kansas)

First round matchup: Stephen F. Austin

First/second round host: Wichita