High-Quality Offense Makes Texas A&M The Tourney Pick vs. Northern Iowa

Jason Lake

Saturday, March 19, 2016 10:29 PM UTC

Saturday, Mar. 19, 2016 10:29 PM UTC

After beating Texas with a halfcourt heave, the No. 11 Northern Iowa Panthers are getting 6.5 points from the No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies on Sunday's NCAA Basketball odds board.

Jason's 2015-16 record as of Mar. 18: 23-13 ATS, 1-4 Totals

Maybe we were asking a bit much from the No. 11 Northern Iowa Panthers and the No. 6 Texas Longhorns to go UNDER 124.5 points in Friday's opening-round game. We would have bet on UNI, but we were spooked by the projections, and the idea that Cameron Ridley was going to play up to 20 minutes for the Longhorns. He played five minutes. Final score: UNI (+3.5) 75, Texas 72.

As for the No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies, they crushed the No. 14 Green Bay Phoenix 92-65 to cash in as 13-point favorites on the closing line. We whiffed on that one, too, but it was a marginal call one way or the other. What will happen when these two teams meet this Sunday (7:40 p.m. ET, truTV)? It's looking good for the Aggies; they're 6.5-point faves on the NCAA Tournament odds board as we go to press.


Round and Round
Let's give those aforementioned projections another shot:

FiveThirtyEight (Elo): Texas A&M –7.5 to –8
Sports-Reference (SRS): Texas A&M –10.52

I'm beginning to sense a theme here. In the first round, the betting value was with the underdogs for the most part – as one might expect when you're making your NCAA Tournament picks for March Madness. The script has been flipped for the second round; the profit margin has been with the chalk in each of the West Region games we've previewed thus far.

Again, as one might expect. The logic behind taking teams like UNI (and VCU, and Yale) in the first round is that they usually end up playing decent, but uninspired at-large teams from the bigger conferences. The Aggies (27-8 SU, 16-12-2 ATS) are made of stronger stuff. They're the No. 16 team on Ken Pomeroy's efficiency charts, while Northern Iowa (23-12 SU, 20-13-1 ATS) is several steps behind at No. 68 in Division I.


I Will Possess You
It looks like the sharps may be on board with the Aggies, too. Our consensus reports show 53-percent support for TAMU – and 100-percent support for the OVER on the total of 127.5 points, up from 127 at the open. We're not too keen on going down that road again. A&M operates at a bit faster pace than Texas, but not much at No. 249 overall. The Panthers remain one of the slowest teams alive in the NCAA Tournament at No. 346 overall in adjusted tempo.

Slow matchups like this make it harder for the favored team to cover the spread, but we'll take our chances with Texas A&M. This is a high-quality offense, among the Division I leaders in steals and offensive rebounding. That handful of extra possessions could be the difference-maker Sunday night.

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NCAA Basketball Pick: Texas A&M –6
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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