There must have been some head-scratching going on in College Station on Sunday night. Texas A&M was seeded ninth in the west, same as last year, and was pitted against (drumroll) Brigham Young University -- same as last year.
Usually all of the frustration with the governing bodies of college athletics is directed toward football and the BCS -- with good reason. But this oversight has reassured everyone that large-scale blunders aren’t limited to fall sports.
Selection Committee chairman (and SEC commissioner) Mike Slive is out in 2010; maybe he’s suffering from a senioritis-like condition.
The Aggies’ second-year coach, Mike Turgeon, was as surprised as anyone.
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When asked about the selection, he said, "One, we're just really glad we're in, but to play the same team with the exact same seeds... It takes a little bit away from it. I'm sure they felt the same way."
For all the second-guessing that my job entails, this still looks to be a good matchup. The Cougars love to run and shoot. The Aggies love to play defense and rebound, giving up 61.9 points per game and rebounding at a +7.1 clip.
The fact that Texas A&M will come into Thursday as a two-point underdog is either surprising or not, and I can’t tell which. For one, the Aggies play in a far better conference, albeit one that no one seems to notice come March; they beat the Cougars 67-62 this time last year.
That said, the Cougars are a better offensive basketball team. They move the ball well and are fast enough to beat you in transition.
The Selection Committee’s oversight has added an additional element to the contest as well, one that is usually avoided in regional play. That is, these teams know each other well enough to shape specifically tailored and definite game-plans. This is usually less prevalent in the tournament than in the regular season and certainly conference play.
How much any of that will matter remains to be seen. Look for the Aggies to crash the boards with wild abandon. If they win the rebounding battle, they will (most likely) advance.