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Texas A&M or Penn State? How to pick 7 vs. 10 matchup in 2023 March Madness bracket

No. 10 seeds in the NCAA Tournament aren’t as successful as No. 9 seeds, but you can bank on at least one winning in the first round each year.

The No. 10 seed has beaten the No. 7 seed 39 percent of the time since the bracket expanded in 1985, though that mark dipped slightly last season when only one came out on top.

Is Penn State in line to be a victorious No. 10 seed this season? The Nittany Lions are coming off an impressive conference tournament run, and a first-round exit will be a highly disappointing finish.

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Their opponent, Texas A&M, was widely considered the biggest snub from last year’s NCAA Tournament, but the Aggies left no doubt this year. They finished second to Alabama in the SEC, making up for a rough non-conference performance.

Texas A&M is a defense-first team with a terrific backcourt and a head coach with tournament experience in Buzz Williams.

Penn State hadn’t made the NCAA Tournament since 2011, though the Nittany Lions would have ended the drought in 2020 if not for the tournament’s cancellation. With second-coach Micah Shrewsberry in charge and do-it-all guard Jalen Pickett leading the way, Penn State came three points short of a Big Ten Tournament title. This is a program on the rise.

MORE: Watch March Madness games with Sling TV

The Sporting News breaks down what should be a fun matchup in the NCAA Tournament and takes a look at how to pick this 7-vs.-10 game: 

Texas A&M vs. Penn State odds 

If you’re looking forward to seeing Texas A&M and Penn State face off on Thursday, you’ll have to wait a little while. This is the 15th game out of the 16 on the Thursday schedule; it’s slated to tip off at 9:55 p.m. ET.

Texas A&M opened as the favorite, though the line indicates we could see a close game.

  • Odds: Texas A&M -2.5
  • Date: Thursday, March 16
  • Time: 9:55 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS
  • Arena: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa 

Texas A&M (25-9, 15-3 SEC)

The Aggies looked like they might be headed for another year without an NCAA Tournament appearance when they suffered bad losses in non-conference play, but their defense made the difference against SEC opponents. Texas A&M allows 65.7 points per game, with opponents shooting just 40.5 percent from the field.

Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford give the Aggies one of the best two-way backcourts in the nation, and backcourts tend to be even more important at this stage of the season.

Texas A&M is coached by Buzz Williams, who is in his fourth season in College Station. Williams got as far as the Elite Eight with Marquette and Sweet 16 with Virginia Tech. This is his first tournament appearance with the Aggies.

  • NET ranking: 19
  • KenPom ranking: 25
  • Quad 1 record: 7-6
  • Quad 2 record: 5-1
  • Quad 3 record: 6-0
  • Quad 4 record: 7-2
  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 30
  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 37

Key players

Wade Taylor IV, G, Soph. (6-0, 186): 16.6 ppg, 4.0 apg, 1.8 spg

Tyrece Radford, G, Sr. (6-2, 200): 13.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.5 apg

Henry Coleman, F, Jr. (6-7, 229): 9.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg

Julius Marble, F, Jr. (6-8, 225): 9.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg

Dexter Dennis, G, Sr. (6-5, 210): 9.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.2 apg

Penn State (22-13, 10-10 Big Ten)

Penn State entered the season with serious NCAA Tournament hopes but found itself on the wrong side of the bubble for most of the stretch run. As other Big Ten teams slipped, though, the Nittany Lions picked up some big wins and played themselves into consideration.

Their Big Ten Tournament run left no doubt. The Nittany Lions made it all the way to the conference title game, where a comeback effort fell just short against Purdue.

Penn State is led by guard Jalen Pickett, who is the rare nightly triple-double threat at the college level. He does just about everything on the offensive end and will be a huge challenge for Texas A&M’s defense. Aside from Pickett, a collection of dangerous shooters can allow the Nittany Lions to hang with any team.

Penn State is led by second-year coach Micah Shrewsberry. He has had two separate stints as an assistant at Purdue, with a six-year stop as an assistant with the Celtics under Brad Stevens in between. 

  • NET ranking: 49
  • KenPom ranking: 39
  • Quad 1 record: 7-7
  • Quad 2 record: 5-5
  • Quad 3 record: 4-1
  • Quad 4 record: 6-0
  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 17
  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 101

Key players

Jalen Pickett, G, Sr. (6-4, 202): 18.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 6.6 apg

Seth Lundy, F, Sr. (6-6, 219): 14.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg

Andrew Funk, G, Sr. (6-5, 188): 12.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.1 apg

Camren Wynter, G, Sr. (6-2, 175): 8.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.9 apg

Myles Dread, G, Sr. (6-4, 220): 5.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg

Texas A&M vs. Penn State Prediction

This will be one of the toss-up matchups of the first round, and for good reason. Both teams played their best basketball of the season leading up to Selection Sunday. Penn State just might have the slight edge. 

The Nittany Lions’ experience is noteworthy: all five starters are seniors. Penn State also has the shooters needed to win in March, shooting 38.7 percent from 3-point range as a team with three starters over 40 percent.

Texas A&M will have its hands full with Pickett, who can take over games with his scoring ability on some nights and turn into a distributor on other nights. Could a preoccupation with Pickett allow Penn State’s shooters to have some good looks? It’s certainly possible.

MORE: Bill Bender’s expert NCAA Tournament bracket picks

On the other hand, the Nittany Lions’ unsteady defense doesn’t exactly fit the mold of a team that wins in March. One positive, however, is that Penn State’s biggest defensive weakness might be its size. Texas A&M has a guard-heavy attack led by Taylor and Radford, which might be easier for Shrewsberry’s team to handle.

The Aggies could have big man Henry Coleman try to make an impact close to the basket, but he isn’t much taller than Penn State’s bigs and hasn’t been much of an offensive threat this season.

Teams need to shoot well to win consistently in this tournament, and Penn State doesn’t have to worry about that. Beating this Aggies defense won’t be easy, but the attention Pickett commands could open things up for the Nittany Lions.

The TeamRankings Predictor Tool offers insight on every NCAA Tournament matchup. TeamRankings subscribers also receive access to customized, data-driven picks as they make their selections.

History of 7-vs.-10 matchups in NCAA Tournament

If the Nittany Lions do pull off the slight upset, they certainly won’t be the first No. 10 seed to win. More than 39 percent of all No. 10 seeds have beaten a No. 7 seed head-to-head since the NCAA Tournament expanded in 1985. 

Only one No. 10 seed won last year, when Miami narrowly escaped USC, but the Hurricanes made the most of it and kept winning until the Elite Eight. Two No. 10 seeds won in 2021, and three came away with a win in 2019.

Below is a breakdown of which No. 10 seeds have beaten No. 7 seeds since 2009.

Year Result
2022 Miami (Fla.) 68, USC 66
2021 Maryland 63, UConn 54
  Rutgers 60, Clemson 56
2019 Florida 70, Nevada 61
  Iowa 79, Cincinnati 72
  Minnesota 86, Louisville 76
2018 Butler 79, Arkansas 62
2017 Wichita State 64, Dayton 58
2016 VCU 75, Oregon State 67
  Syracuse 70, Dayton 51
2015 Ohio State 75, VCU 72
2014 Stanford 58, New Mexico 53
2013 Iowa State 76, Notre Dame 58
2012 Xavier 67, Notre Dame 63
  Purdue 72, Saint Mary’s 69
2011 Florida State 57, Texas A&M 50
2010 Georgia Tech 64, Oklahoma State 59
  Missouri 86, Clemson 78
  Saint Mary’s 80, Richmond 71
2009 USC 72, Boston College 55
  Maryland 84, Cal 71
  Michigan 62, Clemson 59


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