Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl before their summer Italy trip.
Matthew Stevens

AUBURN – Over the last decade, the Southeastern Conference has only got half of its schools in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament one time.

Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl not only believes that means the league is due but said Saturday that he thinks it’ll happen.

We need to win in November and December in our league, and if we win in November and December in our league, watch us get half the league in the NCAA tournament,” Pearl said Saturday. “You didn’t hear it here first, but you heard it here: I think we’ll get half the league in the tournament.

Pearl made these comments a day before the Auburn team was scheduled to leave for Italy for a 10-day summer trip that involve games in Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan.

The Tigers fourth-year head coach is predicting seven teams will qualify for the NCAA tournament, which would be an increase of three schools from the previous two seasons.  

In his preseason Top 25 and 1 for, national writer Gary Parrish had just three SEC schools (Kentucky 6, Florida 10 and Alabama 19) in the rankings and CBS analyst Jerry Palm agrees with Pearl’s assessment as his summer bracket projections has seven schools in the field (Kentucky, Florida, Alabama, Texas A&M, Missouri, Arkansas, Vanderbilt) but not Auburn.

More: When in Rome: Pearl hopes Italian trip translates to Auburn’s 17-18 season

The last time, and only time since 2006, where the Southeastern Conference got half of its schools in the famous field of 64 was 2008 and that effort took an improbable run from a Georgia squad that came into the SEC Tournament with a 13-16 record overall record but won the automatic berth.

Pearl’s prediction obviously includes his separate prediction on his own program that they will be part of the SEC’s participation in the NCAA tournament this upcoming March.

“I’ve got a team that can make the NCAA tournament if I don’t screw it up,” Pearl said to the Golf Channel during a Pro-Am round at the Barbasol…