Green Bay likes to play fast and shoot often, which helps explain them being sixth in the nation in scoring, averaging 84.2 points per game. No team in college basketball has gotten to the free throw line more than Green Bay this season. The Phoenix have attempted nearly 1,000 free throws, which comes out to just over 28 per game. Charles Cooper and Carrington Love each average over 6 free throw attempts per game. But the Phoenix have not shot the ball very well from the charity stripe, at only 66%. But if they are able to draw enough fouls, they will still get enough points from the line and can get the Aggies in foul trouble. No team has taken more field goal attempts either, as Green Bay has attempted 2,294 shots, which averages to over 65 per game. Texas A&M only allows about 65 points per game, so something has got to give in this matchup. Expect the Aggies to try to control the pace of the game, and work the ball into freshman big man Tyler Davis in the post. He led the SEC in field goal shooting at 64%. The Aggies have a lot of versatile size, as senior swingmen Jalen Jones and Danuel House each average 15.5 points per game. Jones was a First Team All-SEC selection. Expect Kerem Kanter to see more minutes than usual for the Vikings, as he will need to help Kenneth Lowe and Jordan Fouse defend the Aggies big men.
The X-Factor for this game will be the turnover battle, and who can score more points off of them. Green Bay is tops in the nation in total steals, and fourth in both turnovers forced and turnover margin (which is a ratio of opponents turnovers to their own). Texas A&M is pretty good at taking care of the basketball, as they only average about 12 turnovers per game. If the Phoenix can maintain a high level of defensive intensity and pressure the passing lanes, they will give themselves a good chance to win.
In big games, sometimes it is the role players making a couple of big shots or diving for 50/50 balls that can change momentum and make all the difference. In the Horizon League title game, Tevin Findlay had seven straight first half points that lengthened his team’s lead. Jamar Hurdle had some big defensive plays. The Phoenix and Aggies are peaking at the right moment, as both have won 8 of their last 9 games. Both are also very experienced and rely heavily on their seniors. Expect the first team to 75 to win this game, which should be one of the more exciting first round matchups.