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Utah State vs Texas A&M – Which Aggies Prevail in South Region Opener?

Posted by Washington Tucker on 3/16/2010 3:28:20 PM

Both Aggies’ teams, Utah State and Texas A&M enjoyed solid seasons in 2010, and were justly rewarded for it with a berth in the NCAA national title tournament. Who could have predicted these teams would meet in the opening round? Utah State is coming off a loss to yet another team named Aggies, the New Mexico State Aggies, in the WAC tournament finals. Although they dropped that decision 69-63, against a team that they beat in the regular season, Utah State showed enough to not only earn a spot, but to be projected as a team that could surprise. Texas A&M last played in the the Big 12 tournament where it was bounced by the powerful Jayhawks 79-66, although many observers felt that the Aggies outplayed them for most of the night. Both teams will aim to bounce back for a shot against the winner of Purdue-Siena, with a sportsbook Sweet 16 berth on the line.

  • What: NCAA Basketball Betting
  • When: Friday March 19, 2010
  • Where: Spokane Center- Spokane, Washington
  • Key Stat: Utah State reached 80 points in seven contests this year

The Utah State-Texas A&M Storyline

After winning 17 straight games on the road to a first place finish in the Western Atlantic Conference standings, Utah State will enter March Madness play on the merit of its 14-2 regular season conference record, 27-7 overall. The Aggies lost just one game of eighteen home contests, and reached a minimum of 80 points on seven different occasions against WAC opponents. It wasn’t long before that the Aggies were battling their in-state rivals to a close finish in a game the Utes stole 68-67 at the start of the season. Utah State now turns its attention to the national title, in an attempt to prove it can compete with the best outside of its conference.

Texas A&M finished Big 12 conference play 11-5 to finish third with a 23-9 overall record, which squeezed it in to the rankings at 23 to start postseason play. The Aggies’ only in-conference home loss was delivered by the best team in the nation-the first ranked Kansas. Road losses to Kansas State, Texas, Baylor, and Oklahoma State kept them four games back of Kansas, and perhaps that the only meeting with the Wildcats was on the road was the difference between second and third place in the conference. Now Texas A&M turns its focus to March Madness, where it faces an underrated opponent.

Offensive Matchups

Utah State had its way offensively for most of the season, but will now have to prove that it was not just taking advantage of weaker conference opponents on the national landscape. Utah State had three players average double-digit points this season, led by junior Tai Wesley’s 13.6 mark. Wesley also led Utah State in rebounds at an average mark of 6.6, and placed second overall in assists with 3.4, as the centerpiece of the offense at the center position.

Donald Sloan led Texas A&M with an average of 18.2 points per game, eight points more than the second-leading scorer, and will have to be at his best especially if this game turns in to a shoot out which it very well might. Texas A&M has five players that average at least 9.0 points, but have a thinner bench than its opponent, and will rely on its starters for the bulk of the scoring.

The difference between the two opposing leading scorers is that Sloan is a senior, while Wesley has not had enough experience to be as confident putting the rock in his hand with the game on the line. In this sports betting tournament a deep bench is much less relevant than the ability to rely on your big name players to produce with the pressure on.

Betting Edge: Texas A&M

Defensive Matchupss

Texas A&M played solid defense in the majority of its wins. The only problem is that the very same defense fell apart in most of its losses. This will be an excellent test, as we will see how well it will be able to run with its opponents. Texas A&M will have to find a way to neutralize Utah State’s ability from beyond the arc, while at the same time not compromising the interior where an underrated opponent could exploit them.

Utah State is not complete enough to defend a Texas A&M team that executes a solid offensive game plan. Although it was able to hold much weaker opponents to low scores in mid major games, this will be a different type of atmosphere against a much different opponent. Texas A&M can spread the ball around, or put it in the hands of Sloan, who Utah State may not have anyone that can slow him down.

Betting Edge: Texas A&M

Injuries

Neither team has a significant injury, although in this online betting situation given the depth of Utah State and the ability of its bench to step in if any starter does happen to be injured, the edge has to be given to the Aggies not from Texas.

Betting Edge: Utah State

Betting Prediction: Utah State vs Texas A&M

Many observers are projecting an upset here, and it is understandable why they believe Utah State could get by to the next round. They are a hungry team that has not been given its recognition as more than a mid major school that played best during the regular season. Utah State has one of the best three-point field goal percentages in the county, which is often key in this tournament.

However, Utah State did not play its best on the biggest stage, which for it was the WAC tournament title, and may stumble under the pressure of being in the national spotlight. Texas A&M is a complete team that understands what its like to be in big games, after all, it has already squeaked sneakers with the nation’s best twice this season.

Washington’s Pick: Texas A&M Aggies

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