The #4 and #5 seeds in the South Bracket take aim at a slot in the Sweet 16 on Sunday afternoon's March Madness betting battle between the Texas A&M Aggies and the Purdue Boilermakers.
What's At Stake: The #1 seed in this bracket, the Duke Blue Devils, most likely await the winner of this NCAA basketball betting affair in the Sweet 16, though the #8 California Golden Bears could also be the opponent in Houston.
College Basketball Odds: Texas A&M -1.5 at BoDog Sportsbook.
Texas A&M Notes: The Aggies are playing well right now, having picked up wins in ten of their L/13, with the only losses in the bunch coming @ Baylor and against Kansas (twice). They're not a particularly strong offensive team at 71.7 points per game, and at times they struggle to shoot the ball (44.4% from the field and 33.7% from downtown). However, their defense has kicked it up a notch in these recent wins, holding their L/6 defeated enemies to just 57.7 points per game. Scoring options are harder since December when G Derrick Roland was lost for the season with a leg injury.
Purdue Notes: Things just haven't looked the same for the Boilermakers since F Robbie Hummel saw his season come to a close with a knee injury at the end of February. The team has been miserable at three point shooting, especially with Hummel out of the lineup, as they shoot just 31.8% from long range as a team. It's defensively intensity that has kept Purdue plugging along, as it is holding teams to just 61.0 points per game and 40.0% shooting from the field this year. Both numbers rank the Boilers in the Top 10 defensive teams of the 32 left standing heading into this weekend.
Players to Watch
F Khris Middleton, Texas A&M Aggies: It's not often that we highlight a player that is averaging just 6.4 points per game, but Middleton has been on fire since the regular season finale, scoring at least 14 points in all four games. He put up 19 against Utah State in the first round win on Friday, and he did so without committing a single turnover. Since March 6th, Middleton is averaging 16.3 points per game.
F JaJuan Johnson, Purdue Boilermakers: The man that has really had to step up in Hummel's absence is Johnson, who is scoring 14.9 points per game this year for the black and gold. He put together his third 20+ point game in his L/4 overall by scoring 23 points against Siena on Friday, and his 15 boards gave him his fourth double-double in his L/10 games. Since the Hummel knee injury, Johnson has averaged 19.4 points per game.
Trends of Note
-Texas A&M is 9-1 ATS in its L/10 games against teams with a winning percentage of at least .600
-Texas A&M is 8-2 ATS in its L/10 NCAA Tournament betting battles
-Texas A&M is 26-10 ATS in its L/36 games as favorites of less than 6.5 points
-Purdue is 5-1 ATS in its L/6 NCAA Tournament games as an underdog
-Purdue is 14-6-1 ATS in its L/21 games as an underdog
-Purdue is 0-5-1 ATS in its L/6 games following an SU victory.
Final Analysis: The Boilermakers are going to have to play the defensive game of their lives to be able to stop the Aggies without Hummel in the starting five. Texas A&M is just playing too well right now to be stopped. This is also a matter of conference superiority. The Big XII has looked good in this tournament, as Oklahoma State and Texas were the only two first round casualties in the dance. The Big Ten was largely known as a weaker power conference this year, and it'll show once again in a Texas A&M triumph, as the Aggies march on to Houston in the Sweet 16.
Selection: Texas A&M -1.5