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Pregaming – A&M

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Teams: Oklahoma State (16-9, 4-7) vs. Texas A&M (20-5, 7-4)

For entertainment purposes
Tonight’s game is at 8:00PM on ESPNU but you can also watch on ESPN3. Oklahoma State comes in unranked in the AP and #52 in the RPI while A&M boasts a #21 rank in the AP poll and a #29 in the RPI. A&M opened as a -1 favorite but most sites have it at OSU -2 right now which I don’t understand at all. What has this team done in the last three weeks that’s made you say, “yep, they can handle a top 25 team at home with conference seeding on the line”?

Behind enemy lines I Am The 12th Man

Homework
A&M is a mere 5-4 since OSU last fell to them in College Station but that includes three straight against Colorado, Texas Tech, and Iowa State. They carry one of the league’s best road records at 3-2 (only Texas and KU are better) and sit in the driver’s seat (with Mizzou) to get a bye in the Big 12 conference tournament.

The Aggies have one of the best scoring defenses in the Big 12 which does not bode well for OSU considering Travis Ford’s recent statements about how they struggle to hit shots in practice against air much less a Big 12 opponent. A&M is also running away with the rebounding margin title.

I don’t really understand how or why they’re the third best team in the conference. Obviously Turgeon is a terrific coach as he just recently moved into 2nd all-time on their career wins list, but they don’t have anybody who makes you say, “wow, that guy terrifies me, he could put up 35 if he gets loose.” In that sense they’re very beatable but I think it’s also the catalyst for the fact that they play so well together as a team. That’s seemingly something OSU has struggled with in recent memory, “oh we’re in trouble? oh well, no worries, just give it to James, he’ll win it for us.” That doesn’t exactly equal “great formula for going deep into March.”

So I don’t really know what to make of A&M yet. I know that sounds odd considering we’re 2/3 of the way through the season, but I just don’t know how great they are. I know they have a solid, well-coached squad, but can that lead them past the first few rounds of the NCAA tournament? I say no…for now.

What I’m worried about
Okay, the perils of Gallagher-Iba are, at this point, over-documented. I am a little worried, however, that it’s going to sink so low at some point that it might take years to recover. Let’s be honest, if this time next year LeBryan Nash and Markel Brown are having in-game slam dunk contests and Keiton is leading the country in threes and OSU is something like 22-3 then GIA is going to be swaying every night again. But if they get swept at home the rest of the way? I mean, how low is this thing going to go?

Two random stats that (probably) only interest me:
A&M doesn’t have a single player in the top 16 in rebounding and yet they lead the league in rebounding margin.

The worst OSU has ever finished in conference is 6-10

Video to get you ready
Remember when home games used to be like this?

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