#3 Texas A&M (28-8) vs #2 Oklahoma (27-7)
When: Thursday, March 24th 2016
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, CA
Time: 7:37 ET | TV: TBS
Former Big 12 foes square off in Anaheim Thursday night as the Texas A&M Aggies battle the Oklahoma Sooners in a Sweet 16 game. The Aggies have lost 31 of the 41 meetings with Oklahoma, but feel they have a team capable off knocking off their former rivals. How Northern Iowa is not playing in this game instead of Texas A&M is beyond me. The Aggies pulled off the largest comeback – with under a minute to play – in NCAA history as they rallied from 12 points down in the final 35 seconds of regulation. They did it all without even fouling by creating turnovers and hitting shots. They made 6-of-27 shots in the first half of that game and 6-of-7 in that final minute. They went on to win 92-88 in double-overtime led by Alex Caruso’s (8.1 points) season-high 25 points. Four starters recorded at least seven rebounds for the Aggies including scorer Danuel House’s (15.7) eight boards. House is averaging 24.7 points over the last three games. Jalen Jones, a 6-7 forward, is second on the team in scoring (15.4) and leads in rebounding (7.1), while the 6″10″ 265-pound Tyler Davis (11.1 points, 6.2 rebounds) is a big presence underneath.
The Sooners are making their second straight trip to the Sweet 16 after losing to Michigan State in this round last season. Four players who started that game will play tonight: Isaiah Cousins, Buddy Hield, Ryan Spangler and Jordan Woodard, each of whom has also scored at least 1,000 points in their respective careers. Hield, the two-time Big 12 Player of the Year, comes in averaging 25.4 points – second in the nation and tops among power 5 schools – and the senior guard has scored 63 points in the first two games of the tournament against Cal State Bakersfield and VCU. Oklahoma enters the contest shooting 42.5% from beyond the arc which is second-best in the nation. They shot 41.3% in the first two games in Oklahoma City last week. The Sooners all-time record for 3-point field goal percentage in a season is 41.4% set in 1986-87. Hield was fourth in the nation in 3-point attempts (274) during the regular season and 20th in 3-point percentage (46.3). Hield has scored at least 30 points 13 times in his career, which is tied with Michael Beasley (Kansas State) for the most in Big 12 history.
I can see close game for the first 35 minutes, but Hield and the rest of the experienced veterans should take over and the Sooners should win this game by five or more points.
Pick: Oklahoma -2.5