We need to look at the betting lines for the Texas A&M Aggies vs. Sam Houston State Bearkats to get a firm idea of how to make our picks.
On one hand, the Texas A&M Aggies are off to a 4-0 start to the 2013-14 college basketball season. On the other hand, the Aggies haven't exactly played a formidable opponent yet, and may have the easiest schedule among all teams in major conferences.
Texas A&M's toughest test on the early slate might come Sunday, and while it won't be a top 25 team visiting Reed Arena, the Sam Houston State Bearkats arrive in College Station with a 4-0 record of their own thanks to a high-powered offense. The Ags and 'Kats will meet for the 84th time a little past 5 PM (ET) with ESPN3 streaming the tilt.
The two campuses sit a little more than an hour apart, and I expected the spread to be fairly close as well. But numbers have yet to show up on SBR's live college basketball odds and there's a chance this one may never make it to the board. Make sure and check back in at SBRforum.com later today to catch the odds if and when they are released.
Only 2 Top 25 Teams Currently On A&M Schedule
According to the numbers at KenPom.com, only three schools have played a weaker schedule than the Aggies -- Wake Forest, Mississippi State and Incarnate Word. Texas A&M isn't going to end up that low on the list by the time we reach Selection Sunday next March, but the Aggies will still be far down in the order with only two teams presently ranked in the top 25 on the regular season slate. Those matchups are both road games, for the record, at No. 4 Kentucky on Jan 21 and No. 16 Florida 10 days later.
Billy Kennedy's crew is coming off a 75-65 win over Prairie View A&M this past Tuesday, a contest in which the Aggies had to hold off a late charge by the Panthers. Texas A&M was up by 21 near the midway point of the second half before things started to get dicey. The game was essentially decided at the free throw line where the Aggies outscored the Panthers, 27-8.
It was a similar tale last Saturday when Texas A&M slipped past Rice, 68-65. The Aggies were favored by 18.5 in that one, and Jordan Green's 3-pointer in the final seconds proved to be the winner. But there was also a 25-8 differential between the Aggies and Owls at the charity stripe.
That the Aggies were able to beat Rice with a shot from behind the arc goes against the norm for them through four games. Texas A&M ranks near the bottom of the country in 3-point shooting, finding the net on just 18-of-68 tries (26.5%), and 5-of-31 in the wins over the Owls and Panthers.
While the Aggies struggle to make the long-range shots, they are having little trouble shooting from closer in. Texas A&M is connecting on over 50% of all field goals, good enough for a top-40 ranking in the country, and nearly 61% of 2-point attempts.
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Sam Houston Among Scoring, Shooting Leaders
It doesn't seem to matter where the Bearkats shoot on the floor, the shots seem to go in. Jason Hooten's bunch is third in the country averaging just under 100 points per contest, sits among the top 10 hitting 54.3% of all field goal tries and ranks fourth in making buckets from outside the arc (49.4%).
Hooten will operate with a deep roster that allows him to rotate 10 and includes several holdovers, such as forwards James Thomas, Terrance Motley and Michael Holyfield who are combining for over 19 rebounds per game. The biggest scoring threats are Juco transfers Kaheem Ransom (17.0 ppg) and Jabari Peters (15.5 ppg), that pair of guards picking up SHSU' s system quickly plus having played together a year ago in New York.
Like Texas A&M, Sam Houston hasn't really met much of a challenge this season and also had some trouble against Prairie View, needing two overtimes before leaving with a 5-point victory.
It's a shame this one appears to be an early No Line game, because I was expecting to see good value on the Bearkats. Texas A&M will definitely present Sam Houston with a stronger defense to penetrate, but I still believe the Bearkats can stay inside 18.
My pick: Lean Sam Houston plus points