March Madness Pick
It’s a Sweet 16 meeting between two former Conference mates and this matchup looked improbable at a time. Texas A&M was down 12 points with 34 seconds to go against Northern Iowa and somehow was able to pull even and eventually win in double overtime. It will be remembered as one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA history. However, there’s no time to celebrate as the Aggies and Sooners have to fly out to Anaheim for their next Game.
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Oklahoma didn’t have as much trouble reaching this stage, but it didn’t come easy. After getting out to huge lead against VCU, they had trouble putting the Rams away and eventually won by just Four points. Texas A&M should have lost to Northern Iowa, but somehow pulled out the win after being down most of the Game.
Despite playing in the SEC, the Aggies have already faced a large number of Big 12 opponents this year, beating Kansas State, Baylor and Iowa State with a loss to Texas. They’d like to add to the list with a win over Oklahoma.
The Sooners’ main problem in this Game will be how they deal with the bigs of A&M. But the problem for anyone playing the Sooners is how they deal with Buddy Hield. The National Player of the Year candidate went off last Game for 36 points and seven rebounds, as VCU didn’t really have anyone to match up with him. It was more or less a normal Game for Hield, who hit threes, got to line and blew past defenders multiple times for easy layups.
Texas A&M gave up 12 threes to UNI, albeit to a much different offense, and will need to find a way to limit Hield at least somewhat. Going in the Aggies’ favor is their size, not only down low, but also in the backcOurt. They have two athletic guards in Jalen Jones and Danuel House that should give Hield some problems. Speaking of House, he has scored at least 20 points in three straight Games and scored all 22 of his points against UNI in the final five minutes of regulation and in the overtimes.
OUtside of Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard are good in their own right, although both struggled a bit from the floor against VCU. In addition, Cousins had trouble with the press and turned the ball over six times. Senior point guard Alex Caruso stepped up big time for the Aggies last Game with 25 points and he’s going to be vital again in this Game.
Usually Oklahoma has a decent advantage in the backcOurt, but A&M can keep even for the most part, unless Hield has another 30-plus-point Game. The difference in this contest and why the Aggies have a shot, is because of a deeper bench and their advantage with big men Tyler Davis and Tonny Trocha-Morelos.
Neither was a huge factor against Northern Iowa, but they’re going to have to be in this Game if A&M wants to win. Davis only averages 22 minutes per Game, but in big Games when he’s needed the most, like in two OT Games against Kentucky, he has stepped up. His size could be a problem for Oklahoma’s Khadeem LAttin, who will be the main guy guarding him. It’ll also be interesting to see who Ryan Spangler marks up.
Spangler will have the edge on the offensive end, but he isn’t really a back-to-the-basket type of player. Defensively, he’ll be on a smaller and faster player, possibly Danuel House.
If Hield is on his Game again, the Sooners should get the win. Maybe Texas A&M shouldn’t be here, but that doesn’t matter now and the Aggies have all the tools to give Oklahoma a run for their money. It’s just a matter of putting them together after escaping last round.
Our Pick – Texas A&M +2