Penn State Basketball

NCAA Tournament Bracket: Why You Should Pick Penn State Basketball

Penn State Basketball plays its first NCAA Tournament game in 12 years Thursday night at 9:55 pm on TBS after a wildly successful Big Ten Tournament run.

But what do the Aggies bring to the table?  Can the Nittany Lions continue this season, resulting in a matchup versus either Texas or Colgate to make the Sweet Sixteen?
Penn State and Texas A&M couldn’t be more different.  As discussed on the last episode ‘Dancing!‘ on the Shots Gotta Fall…A Penn State Basketball Podcast, the best way for us to breakdown this match-up is by comparing the teams to like opponents each team has already faced.

What to expect from Penn State Basketball vs. Texas A&M


Texas A&M is most like?  A combination of Indiana and Illinois

This is great news for Nittany Lions fans as Penn State Basketball was 5-0 (!) against these two tournament teams this year.
Texas A&M has some size but nothing like a Zack Edey or Hunter Dickinson.  This is very familiar of the Hoosiers and Fighting Illini, both have decent height in the frontcourt but not that dominating center that the Nittany Lions simply can’t stop.
The Aggies shoot 32.8% from three, right in between the Hoosiers and Illini.  This is crucial because it likely means Penn State Basketball will have a significant advantage from beyond the arc.
As we saw in the Big Ten Tournament final, Penn State’s shooting makes it very hard for teams to bury them unless they can keep up from beyond the arc.


Penn State Basketball is most like? Missouri

This is not as good of news for Nittany Lion fans.
The Aggies destroyed Missouri at home by 18 and won in Columbia by 9. Missouri earned a 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament.  The Tigers have three players shooting over 39.5% from deep and another over 35%, which isn’t quite as prolific as Penn State’s three-point prowess but is significant.
Like the Nittany Lions, a significant amount of points come from beyond the arc as opposed to the free throw line.
The Tigers are ranked in the top 10 of KenPom’s offensive efficiency metric, and Penn State is just outside of that (at #17).  They are similarly not the largest team and really focus on efficient, sharpshooting to score.
So, both teams went undefeated against the teams their next opponent is most similar to.  What does that mean about who will win the game tonight?
To quote the podcast title above, will shots fall for Penn State?  It’s easy to say they have to make x threes in order to win the game.  Sure, it’s true, but even in their Big Ten Tournament run, the Nittany Lions averaged just 7.5 made three-pointers each game.  While clutch shooting certainly existed, Penn State didn’t blow anyone out from beyond the arc.
Micah Shrewsberry‘s team won by playing their signature efficient offense and less signature getting to the free-throw line.  All season long, despite appearances to the contrary, Penn State’s offense has hummed when they are driving to the basket instead of setting for deep, often rushed three-pointers.
Driving creates better looks from beyond. So my prediction comes down to how many times the Nittany Lions get to the free throw line.
The Aggies can foul defensively, so if the Nittany Lions can get 15 free throws before the last media timeout (when sometimes teams begin fouling strategically), Penn State can pull off the upset.

Final prediction: Penn State 74 — Texas A&M 69

Penn State Basketball
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