NCAA Tournament selection committee spokesman explains why Auburn is playing in Birmingham

Auburn basketball opened their run in the NCAA Tournament by defeating Iowa, 83-75 on Thursday night. Six players reached double-figures in points, led by Johni Broome’s 19-point effort.

An overwhelmingly pro-Auburn crowd cheered on their team as they walked off the court with an eight-point win, which led many college basketball fans and media members to become dubious of Auburn’s lucky draw.

The Tigers will play the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament at Legacy Arena in downtown Birmingham, which is 113 miles from the front door of Neville Arena. As a No. 9 seed, many feel that Auburn does not deserve the de facto “home court advantage” fate that they were given.

“So Auburn gets to play in Birmingham? Maybe we should have been a 9-seed,” Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson said Sunday upon hearing that his team would be paired with Auburn in their pod of the Midwest Region.

So, why is Auburn playing its first two games in Birmingham? Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne, who also serves on the NCAA Tournament selection committee, explains.

To outsiders, Auburn playing close to home seems suspicious, but Byrne assures fans that it was not planned. It was simply “the nature of the beast.”

“When it came to Auburn getting bracketed to Birmingham, that’s where it fit in the rotation at the time,” Byrne said in a recent podcast with Roger Hoover of the Crimson Tide Sports Network. “And with the options that were available, that was the one that made the most sense, and so that’s how (Auburn) ended up there.”

Byrne even goes as far as saying that conspiracy theories surrounding the NCAA Tournament and College Football Playoff selection committees are out of line when it comes to the team’s lucky draws.

“I know sometimes that there’s a theory out there that, well, the committee’s secretly in the back room putting together deals and saying, ‘Oh, let’s put this team here; that will be a really good matchup,’ and those different things,” Byrne said. “It doesn’t happen. It literally does not happen.”

Auburn plays its second round game on Saturday evening against No. 1 seed Houston at 6:10 p.m. CT. The game can be seen on TBS.

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Story originally appeared on Auburn Wire