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ESPN predicts Texas A&M vs. Penn State in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament

Texas A&M (26-9, 15-3 SEC) is back in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2018 season, and that’s more than enough to get any Aggie excited for all the potential that the Big Dance has to offer during this magical time of the year.

Saying all I can say and writing all I can write about Head coach Buzz Williams’ squad receiving a surprisingly low seven seed during the selection process is now in the past, shifting the focus to the 10-seed Penn State Nittany Lions, the two will face off as members of the Midwest Region and play their opening round matchup inside the Wells Fargo Center in Des Moines, Iowa on Thursday night.

When analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of both teams, it comes down to pretty basic basketball, as Texas A&M thrives on turning teams over and scoring in transition while slowing down the pace on offense, Penn State ranks third in the country with only 8.8 turnovers per game, and 11th in 3-point field goal percentage at 38.93%, so in other words, the Aggies need one of their best defensive performances to survive and advance.

On Tuesday, ESPN’s BPI (College Basketball Power Index), predicted Thursday night’s game, but first, here is a description of just how BPI operates:

“a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of performance going forward. BPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Strength of Record (SOR) is a measure of team accomplishment based on how difficult a team’s W-L record is to achieve. Game predictions account for opponent strength, pace of play, site, travel distance, day’s rest and altitude, and are used to simulate the season 10,000 times to produce season projections. Numbers update daily.”

According to the BPI simulations, 66,3% picked Texas A&M to defeat Penn State, giving the Nittany Lions a 33.7% chance to pull off the upset. As of today, the Aggies are a solid -3.5 point favorite but don’t be surprised if this game comes down to the final seconds.

7-seed Texas A&M vs. 10-seed Penn State is set for 8:55 p.m. CT. at Wells Fargo Arena on Thursday, March 16. The game will air on TBS.

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Story originally appeared on Aggies Wire