Greatest Basketball Programs of the South: No. 22 Auburn Tigers

Ryne E. HancockCorrespondent IMarch 22, 2010

Auburn Tigers

Location: Auburn, Ala.

Reason for Nickname: The nickname “Tigers” comes from a line in Oliver Goldsmith’s poem, “The Deserted Village,” published in May 1770, “where crouching tigers wait their hapless prey… "

Conference: Southeastern

Home Court: Auburn Arena (built 2010, capacity 9,600)

SEC Champions: 1960 (regular season), 1985 (tournament), 1999 (regular season)

NCAA Tournament: 1984, 1985, 1986 (Elite 8), 1987, 1988, 1999 (Sweet 16), 2000, 2003 (Sweet 16)

NIT Tournament: 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 2001, 2009

Auburn began playing basketball in 1905 and for the duration of the program, it has remained in the shadow of the football program. It took almost 80 years for the Tigers to reach the NCAA Tournament when Charles Barkley and company made their debut in 1984. In 1986, the Tigers came within one game of being the first Alabama school to reach the Final Four, losing to Louisville in the Elite Eight.

The school has won two SEC regular-season championships, the first coming in 1960 under coach Joel Eaves, the winningest coach in Auburn history and the second one in 1999 under Cliff Ellis. In 1985, the Tigers won the SEC Tournament for the only time in program history under coach Tommy Smith.

Did You Know? Auburn’s former arena, Auburn Sports Arena, burned in 1996 during the Auburn-LSU football game. The arena was home to the team for 24 seasons until Beard-Eaves Coliseum opened.

Auburn Tigers basketball by the numbers:

Seasons: 105

All-time wins: 1,199

SEC Overall Championships: 2

SEC West Champions: 1

SEC Tournament Champions: 1

Postseason Appearances: 14

NCAA Tournaments: 8

NCAA Elite Eight: 1

NCAA Sweet Sixteens: 3