All previews: click here for the full 2018 NCAA tournament schedule
Conference: Big Ten
Texas A&M Aggies
Date: Thursday, March 22
Time: 7:37 pm Eastern
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Two of the nation's best defenses will clash in Los Angeles.
Michigan Texas A&M
Strength: #13 Strength: #25
Pomeroy: #10 Pomeroy: #25
Offense: #36 Offense: #65
Defense: #3 Defense: #10
BPI: #12 BPI: #32
LRMC: #13 LRMC: #27
Consistency: #228 Consistency: #321
Schedule Strength: #40 Schedule Strength: #7
Tempo (Pomeroy): #329 Tempo: #110
AP Final Poll: #7 AP Final Poll: #NR
AP Pre-season: #39 AP Pre-season: #25
SportsRatings Genetic Model:
Model Rank: #12 Model Rank: #27
Michigan's defense is #3, while the Aggies have the #10 defense. Neither offense is elite but Michigan has the advantage there, too. The Wolverines will tend to slow the game down, and both teams are less than consistent, especially the Aggies. Michigan has been playing well for almost the last month, while Texas A&M's last game was incredible.
- Wins vs. tournament teams (8): (11)UCLA+OT, @(10)Texas+7, @(3)Michigan St.+10, (5)Ohio St.+12, =(3)Michigan St.+11, =(2)Purdue+9, =(14)Montana+14, =(6)Houston+1
- Wins vs. Sweet Sixteen (1): =(2)Purdue+9
- Losses to tournament teams (4): @(2)North Carolina-15, @(5)Ohio St.-9, (2)Purdue-1, @(2)Purdue-4
- Other losses (3): =LSU-2, @Nebraska-20, @Northwestern-9
Overview: If there's a team that has momentum, it's Michigan. They won their last 9 game of the season including a Big Ten tournament championship. They've only defeated one Sweet Sixteen team, Purdue, but they also lost twice to the Boilermakers. Michigan's slow tempo keeps scoring down but they still have 3 players who average double figures in a balanced attack. Charles Matthews led with 20 points and 11 rebounds against Montana, where the team's extra-week layoff didn't seem to hurt or help. They needed a last-second shot by Jordan Poole to top Houston.
- Wins vs. tournament teams (9): =(5)West Virginia+23, (13)Buffalo+16, (8)Missouri+11, (7)Arkansas+14, @(4)Auburn+1, (5)Kentucky+11, (9)Alabama+2, =(10)Providence+4, @(2) North Carolina+21
- Wins vs. Sweet Sixteen (2): =(5)West Virginia+23, (5)Kentucky+11
- Losses to tournament teams (9): @(4)Arizona-3, @(9)Alabama-22, (6)Florida-17, @(5)Kentucky-1, @(3)Tennessee-13, @(1)Kansas-11, @(8)Missouri-4, @(7)Arkansas-19, =(9)Alabama-1
- Other losses (3): LSU-1, @LSU-12, Mississippi St.-12
Overview: The Aggies raced to an 11-1 record against a pretty tough slate, but began losing once the SEC season began. They finished just .500 in conference play and lost in the first round of the SEC tournament. The Aggies boast four players in double figures but in games without #6 scorer Duane Wilson, who is out for the season, they were 3-7 (now 5-7). True to form, against Providence there were four in double figures—but the highest output after that was 5 points. Everything came together aginst North Carolina, however, for their best game since the opening win over West Virginia; TJ Starks led with 21 points.
Game Analysis: Which is better: momentum from a huge, season-defining win? Or playing consistently well for a month? If it's the former, Texas A&M should win the game. Their performance against North Carolina was at least 20 points better than Michigan's last-second win. But go back much further and the edge shifts to the Wolverines; even over the last 3 games, the edge of that one huge Aggie performance is overwhelmed by Michigan's consistency.
Can the Aggies repeat that great performance though? To speculate, let's look at what kind of team North Carolina is and compare them to Michigan. The Tar Heels had a great offense (#4) and middling defense (#35); this allowed Texas A&M's middling offense to shine while their own defense limited the Tar Heels. They also had a size advantage down low. Michigan is the opposite in terms of offensive and defensive efficiency, with a solid defense and middling offense. They also have 6-11 Moritz Wagner to battle 266-lb Tyler Davis for rebounds. So the game doesn't line up the same, but the Aggies still appear to have a big edge in getting offensive rebounds, ranking #30 in Pomeroy's stats to #270 for Michigan.
Note that either team shoots free throws well at all, with both around 66% for the year.
Michigan by 3
Power rating: spread
Michigan by 2.5
Game-comparisons: % Chance to win
Texas A&M: 43.5%
Michigan is around a 3 point favorite by the spread and our Strength power rating. Our game-comparison system's odds give Michigan almost the exact same chance as the historical rate for a 3-seed beating a 7-seed, 57%.
Bottom line: Unless Texas A&M manages to repeat their UNC performance, the game should be fairly close. And Michigan is unlikely to shoot just 33% like North Carolina did. It's been a terrible side of the bracket for favorites, but we pick Michigan to advance.
Final prediction: Michigan 67, Texas A&M 64
More previews: click here for the full 2018 NCAA tournament schedule.