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Texas A&M vs Penn State Prediction, Picks & Odds | NCAA Tournament

Written by: Richard Janvrin
Published March 13, 2023
11 min read

A pair of conference tournament runners-up will square off in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday when the Texas A&M Aggies face the Penn State Nittany Lions. The Aggies are the no. 7 seed in the Midwest Region while the Nittany Lions received the no. 10 seed. The two teams will travel to Des Moines, Iowa for the game with the winner playing Saturday against the winner between no. 2 Texas and no. 15 Colgate.

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Texas A&M vs Penn State Prediction for the 2023 NCAA Tournament

#10 Penn State Team Preview

The Nittany Lions spent most of the regular season getting lost in the middle of the Big Ten standings. Penn State was just 10-10 in conference play during the regular season, putting them on the proverbial bubble heading into the conference tournament. However, wins over Illinois, Northwestern, and Indiana secured a spot in the Big Dance for the Nittany Lions and got them to the Big Ten Tournament final, falling two points short against Purdue after making a late comeback.

Following their run in the Big Ten Tournament, the Nittany Lions head into the NCAA Tournament winning eight of their last 10 games. That stretch includes five wins against teams that are also in the field of 68. It’s worth noting that Penn State’s late charge came on the heels of a four-game losing streak during the early part of February, so the Nittany Lions were able to go through some turmoil and come out the other side. In the end, Penn State’s resume includes 10 wins against teams in the Big Dance, including three wins against Illinois, two against Indiana, and two against Northwestern.

Key Players and Key Stats

The Nittany Lions have three players who average double figures who are key to advancing in this tournament, although nobody is more important than point guard Jalen Pickett. The fifth-year senior is the team leader in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. He averages 18.1 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game. The Nittany Lions rely on him to do everything and carry them when needed.

Of course, Seth Lundy and Andrew Funk are also key pieces for Penn State, averaging 14.2 and 12.2 points per game, respectively. The pair has combined for 187 made three-point field goals this season with both shooting over 40% from the perimeter. The caveat is that outside of Pickett, Lundy, Funk, and Camren Wynter, nobody on Penn State’s roster averages more than 5.2 points per game. The Nittany Lions don’t get much scoring from their frontcourt and rely on their best players to make shots and carry the team.

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#7 Texas A&M Team Preview

The Aggies might have the biggest beef with the Selection Committee when it comes to seeding. Texas A&M finished the regular season second in the SEC, which sent eight teams to the Big Dance, and then reached the SEC Tournament finals. In the end, Buzz Williams’ team finished 25-9 and 15-3 in SEC, just one game behind Alabama, which was given the first overall seed in the tournament, giving the Aggies plenty of reason to be upset about only being a no. 7 seed.

On top of a solid resume, the Aggies played some of their best basketball down the stretch. Including their run to the finals of the SEC Tournament, Texas A&M heads into the Big Dance winning 10 of its last 12 games, including an upset win over Alabama to close out the regular season. In defense of the Selection Committee, Texas A&M’s resume during the non-conference part of the season was abysmal, including losses to Murray State, Colorado, and Watford. In fact, the Aggies only have eight wins over teams in the NCAA Tournament. However, Texas A&M has two wins over Auburn, two wins over Arkansas, and two wins over Missouri, as well as victories over Alabama and Tennessee, so the Aggies are not to be overlooked against anybody.

Key Players & Key Stats

Williams has used a deep bench for much of the season, explaining why the Aggies have just two players who average double figures, albeit with five players who score at least nine points per game. The straw that stirs the drink for Texas A&M is sophomore Wade Taylor IV, who averages 16.6 points and four assists per game, not to mention 1.8 steals per game on the defensive end. Also, his 76 made three-pointers this year is nearly twice as much as anyone else on the team.

Texas A&M’s other double-digit scorer is senior Tyrece Radford. The former Virginia Tech transfer is contributing 13.3 points and 2.5 assists per game. Despite being just 6’2’’, Radford is also a key rebounder for the Aggies, pulling down 5.5 boards per game. Meanwhile, the likes of Henry Coleman III, Julius, marble, and Dexter Dennis all average at least nine points and four rebounds per game. Coleman and Marble, in particular, give the Aggies a strong presence in the frontcourt.

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Odds, Previews, Picks, Best Bets for #7 Texas A&M vs #10 Penn State

While both of these teams are trending in the right direction heading into the NCAA Tournament, this matchup figures to be a huge clash of styles. The Nittany Lions are a guard-oriented team that lacks an impactful frontcourt but ranks 17th nationally in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency rankings. 

On the other hand, the Aggies have a little more size and balance and would prefer to play at a slower pace and focus more on defense. While ranking 30th in KenPom’s adjusted offensive efficiency rankings, Texas A&M also ranks 37th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, far higher than Penn State in that category. The winner of this game figures to be the team that’s able to impose its style of play on the other.

However, the edge in this game goes to the Nittany Lions, especially since they opened as three-point underdogs. Penn State’s guard play will be the difference, as the Nittany Lions shoot 38.5% from three-point range and commit just nine turnovers per game compared to 13.9 assists per game. Meanwhile, the Aggies have an even assist-to-turnover ratio and shoot just 32.8% from the perimeter. Despite Texas A&M’s size advantage, Penn State’s shooting makes the Nittany Lions the best bet to beat the spread and potentially win the game.

Texas A&M vs Penn State How to Watch

Location: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa

Game Time & Date: 9:55 EST on Thursday, March 16

TV Network: TBS

Streaming: NCAA March Madness Live App

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AUTHOR

Richard Janvrin

548 Articles

After graduating from the University of New Hampshire with a BA in Journalism, Richard Janvrin has been covering iGaming and sports betting since December 2018. Richard has covered betting at Bleacher Report, Gambling.com, The Game Day, Forbes, and more.

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