Utah State vs. Texas A&M
The Aggies are guaranteed a first-round tournament win on Friday when No. 12 Utah State takes on No. 5 Texas A&M. Oh yeah, both teams are called the Aggies.
Utah State got into the Big Dance through an at-large bid after an upset loss to New Mexico State in the WAC Tournament final. The Aggies were a 10-point favorite at Bovada in the game, but lost 69-63. Not only did that cost the Aggies the WAC Tournament title, but it also snapped their 17-game winning streak.
The Aggies may be a No. 12 seed in the tournament, but with their shooting prowess they could be a potential upset team. Utah State was one of the best shooting schools in the nation this season from everywhere on the court, including three-point range and the free-throw line.
As a team the Aggies shot an impressive 41.9% from beyond the arc, led by Brian Green’s 50% three-point shooting. Jared Quayle is also a deadly three-point shooter while averaging 12.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.2 assists per game.
We haven’t even mentioned Utah State’s leading scorer Tai Wesley yet. While the Aggies shoot well from the perimeter, Wesley gives them an inside presence while averaging 13.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
Last year in the Big Dance the Aggies nearly pulled off a huge first-round upset over Marquette as a No. 11 seed. The Aggies were a 6.5-point underdog, but just came up short in a 58-57 loss to Marquette.
Texas A&M earned an at-large bid into the tournament after a solid season in the Big 12. They were 23-9 during the regular season and made it to the semifinals in the conference tournament before falling to Kansas.
It looked like the Aggies’ season was derailed back in December when guard Derrick Roland was lost for the season after suffering a gruesome broken leg. The Aggies didn’t crumble when Roland went down. In fact, Donald Sloan stepped up to lead the Aggies with 18.2 points per game.
The Aggies don’t possess a big offensive threat beyond Sloan and will need their defense to be strong, like it was during the regular season, if they’re going to thrive in the tournament. Some solid guard play from three-point threat B.J. Holmes and speedy Dash Harris should also be on the Aggies’ must-have list for a successful tourney run.
This is the Aggies’ fifth straight appearance in the Big Dance. Last year they advanced to the second round before getting knocked out by Connecticut. Their longest run during their five-year streak was a Sweet 16 appearance in 2007.
The oddsmakers expect them to make it to at least the second round this year after listing them as a 3-point favorite against Utah State.