Texas AM vs Penn State March Madness Betting Preview
This 7/10 Matchup - Must See, Expect A Barnburner!
The first round of the NCAA Tournament will tip off on Thursday, with Texas A&M vs Penn State in Des Moines, Iowa. Tip-off is slated for 9:55 p.m. on TBS. The winner will advance to play either No. 2 seed Texas or No. 15 seed Colgate in the second round of the Midwest Regional on Saturday.
Texas A&M is currently a 3-point favorite and -160 on the moneyline. The over/under is set at 134.5. (Odds change frequently, be sure to check for the most up to date changes.)
Texas A&M Aggies: SEC Runner-Up Looking for Redemption
Texas A&M is returning to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2018. In their most recent appearance, the Aggies made the Sweet 16 run as a No. 7 seed, ultimately losing to Michigan, 99-72. This will be the Aggies’ 15th trip all-time.
How They Got Here
Texas A&M went 25-9 and was runner-up to Alabama for both the SEC regular season and tournament titles. As impressive as that was, the NCAA Selection Committee ultimately punished the Aggies for an underwhelming non conference schedule. Only three of the Aggies’ non conference opponents are ranked Top 100 in the NET (Boise State, Memphis, Colorado). They lost to all three. Their overall schedule, according to KenPom, was ranked 53rd.
Getting blown out in the SEC final was a bit of a buzzkill, but the Aggies still are 19-4 over their last 23 games.
How Far Will They Go
Despite their weak non conference schedule, the Aggies did enough within the SEC to receive more love from the committee. Their seeding generated plenty of discussion on the college basketball news circuit.
They’re still 7-6 in Quad 1 games, with victories over Tennessee and Alabama, and are ranked 19th in the NET.
As is the case for Penn State, Texas A&M will almost certainly have to get past rival Texas to make any real noise this March. They’re currently +225 to reach the Sweet 16.
Penn State Nittany Lions: Surging at Right time
Penn State will be making its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance, but the first since 2011. In their most recent trip, the Nittany Lions lost in the round of 64 to Temple. Their deepest run came in 1954, when they fell in the Final Four to LaSalle. At the time, the field consisted of just 24 teams.
How They Got Here
Four straight losses to begin February dropped Penn State to 5-9 in Big Ten play. At that point, their tournament hopes looked bleak. But the Nittany Lions played their way back onto the NCAA bubble down the stretch by winning five of their final six regular season games. With work still to do in the Big Ten Tournament, the Nittany Lions upset Illinois, Northwestern, and Indiana. They nearly won the final too, ultimately losing to top-seeded Purdue 67-65.
Altogether, Penn State’s resume — a No. 48 NET ranking, seven Quad 1 wins, and only one bad loss — was impressive enough for the school to comfortably break its decade-plus tournament drought.
How Far Will They Go
At their best, the Nittany Lions have enough offensive firepower to beat practically anyone. Former Siena transfer Jalen Pickett, who’s averaging 17.9 points on 51.6% shooting, is capable of carrying the Nittany Lions on his own. He showed that at different points this season, including scoring a career-high 41 points in a home victory over Illinois.
Still, given where they’re seeded, it’s hard to imagine the Nittany Lions getting much further than the round of 32. Their likely second-round opponent, Texas, is a contender to win not just the regional, but the whole tournament.
Handicapping The Game
Texas A&M vs Penn State could be one of the best matchups in the first round — in any region. Both teams reached their respective conference tournament finals, with the potential to do more in the Big Dance.
The Nittany Lions are potent from the perimeter — they shoot over 38% from the 3-point range, ranking 11th in the country — and have a bona fide No. 1 scorer in Pickett. But the fifth-year senior has plenty of help too, as evidenced by his 234 assists. This season, only three players had more. Seth Lundy and Andrew Funk both can stroke it from deep and are averaging double figures in scoring. Simply put, Penn State can score. According to KenPom, they’re ranked 17th in adjusted offensive efficiency.
The Nittany Lions’ experience is also noteworthy. All five starters are seniors. That can’t be taken for granted this time of year.
Texas A&M is a bit more balanced. Led by sophomore guard Wade Taylor IV, the Aggies are averaging a healthy 73.2 points per game. Keep in mind, the Aggies run one of the slowest offenses in the country, making their output all the more impressive. But they’re formidable on the other end of the floor too. They’ve allowed fewer than 60 points 10 times this season. Scoring against the Aggies won’t be easy, but the attention Pickett commands may help Penn State spread the floor. Either way, Texas A&M vs. Penn State should be fun.
Keep in mind, when assessing your March Madness betting odds, both Texas A&M (23-11) and Penn State (20-13-2) have been impressive against the spread. (Odds change frequently, be sure to check for the most up to date changes.)Follow us on Twitter