3 Texas A&M Aggies vs. 2 Oklahoma Sooners
7:37 p.m. ET, TBS
Texas A&M is the last SEC team standing in the 2016 postseason, and it gets the chance to go at the high powered Oklahoma Sooners in the Sweet 16.
OU has been consistently good all season, racking up good non-conference wins over Wisconsin and Villanova before winning twice as many games in the rough and tumble Big 12 as it lost. The Sooners lost just once to a team that didn't make the tournament—a February slip up on the road at Kansas State—and beat every team that also beat it except for Kansas. KU gave Oklahoma its only home loss on the year, while West Virginia needed a Buddy Hield last-second shot to be waved off in the Big 12 Tournament to give the team its sole neutral site loss.
Texas A&M has been a big game hunter this season. It's a sterling 8-2 against teams in the current KenPom top 50, including a perfect 4-0 against the top 27. Winning tonight would give the Aggies their fourth Big 12 win on the year, as they've already defeated Texas, Baylor, and Iowa State.
The Sooners are No. 7 in the KenPom ratings at present, and they're a balanced outfit. With an offense rated 14th in efficiency and a defense at 18th, they're just one of five teams in the top 20 in both categories (the others: Virginia, Kansas, UNC, and Villanova). A&M isn't too off balance with the 33rd rated offense and 13th rated defense. Oklahoma prefers a much faster pace at 70.7 possessions per 40 minutes, while A&M averages about three fewer at 68.0.
Stopping OU begins and ends with slowing down Buddy Hield. The sweet shooting senior is the country's second-leading scorer at 25.4 points per game, and he shoots a lethal 46.3% from three. The guard-driven Sooners also feature double digit backcourt scorers in Isaiah Cousins (13.1 ppg) and Jordan Woodard (12.8).
The fourth and final OU player to average double digits is big man Ryan Spangler, who nearly averages a double-double at 10.5 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. There is a big drop off for Oklahoma after him, though, as no one else averages more than 5.5 points per game. The big four Sooners all average over 30 minutes per game, another forward Kadeem Lattin averages 22.2 minutes per game, and then no one else gets more than 12.5 minutes per game.
Texas A&M has a deeper rotation that has a chance to do some damage on OU. The Aggies have an excellent guard trio in Jalen Jones, Danuel House, and Alex Caruso, even if it doesn't have someone as great as Hield to helm it. The frontcourt is where the Aggies have their advantage. TAMU is the rare college team with two guys listed as centers in Tyler Davis and Tonny Trocha-Morelos, while D.J. Hogg and Tavario Miller add forwards to the rotation.
If Texas A&M can keep it in a half court game, its size may ultimately win out. When LSU almost beat the Sooners during the SEC-Big 12 Challenge, its forwards Ben Simmons and Craig Victor came up big in the game. LSU's guards just aren't as good of defenders as the Aggies' are, so Cousins (18 points) and especially Hield (32) lit up the Tigers in the 77-75 OU win. If Texas A&M can get good games from Davis and Trocha-Morelos, then prevailing in this matchup would be a decent bet.
The winner of this game will move on to play the winner of 1-seed Oregon and 4-seed Duke in the Elite Eight.