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NCAA Tournament Preview: Providence (and likely UNC) await in Charlotte

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We took a closer look at the draw for our 7th seeded Aggies, and things could have been a lot worse

Lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes.
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Melvin Franchione (MF): *coughs* *taps mic* *assumes amazingly nostalgic voice*

Hello friends, every college basketball season, like life itself, is a finite journey. It has a beginning, and an end, and in between unforeseeable challenges arise that challenge the very notions of (*throws up*)

My god, sorry, I don’t know how Jim Nantz does it. IT’S MARCH MADNESS TIME BABY!!! WOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! I um… I’m sorry I didn’t really prepare a question I’m too excited, you?

Gigthem08 (GT): WOOOOOOOOO

Was that Jim Nantz reference on purpose? Because we have an A+ time slot on CBS, with our man Jim Nantz on the call. He’s got the rest of the A team there (Bill Raftery, Grant Hill, and Tracey Wolfson), and our early start time ensures “main TV” placement at March Madness watch parties around the country. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it, and I’m entirely prepared for a world where I can live the rest of my NCAA Friday free and clear of worry from our result.

So no, I don’t have a question either. We’re off to a good start.

MF: It was on purpose. But it should be noted that Nantz went to UH so I dislike him on principle until either they’re eliminated or we’re eliminated. But also yes that time slot makes me nervous, I have to ramp up my hype by 11 AM.

So, let’s start with this, when Providence popped up on the screen, what was your first thought?

GT: Honestly, my first thought was “how on earth did we avoid a Big XII opponent?” When Texas and Oklahoma popped up on the 10 line earlier in the show, I figured there was no way we were a seven.

My second thought was “I need to research Providence basketball.”

My third, post-research thought was “we can win this game.” The Friars have stellar guard play, but we’ll have the clear advantage down low. Now as we all know, “we have the clear advantage down low” is far from a sure marker for a Texas A&M victory, but it’s a nice place to start.

MF: I just finished sauteing this take so it’s coming in hot. If we play well at all, we win this game.

GT: Careful. Don’t burn the edges.

MF: I’m not scared. If we got to pick the attributes of our first round opponent, what would we pick? We want a team that’s small, can’t shoot threes, doesn’t defend the paint well, and gives up a lot of offensive rebounds. AND GUESS WHAT?

GT: What?

MF: Providence is all of those things.

GT: They are! But they’re also a little feisty for a 10 seed. Down at the 10+ line(s), you can sometimes find teams that made their way through the season in an entirely predictable fashion. They beat inferior opposition, they lose to the cream of their conference, and they do just enough against the middle ground to get by.

The Providence Friars do not live that life.

They grabbed two wins over a #1 seed (Xavier), one of which happened less than a week ago, and they grabbed a third win over a #1 seed (Villanova) in February for good measure. They also have three terrible, terrible losses, including a home drubbing by a woeful DePaul squad.

They can beat anyone, and they can lose to anyone. If you squint your eyes hard enough, you can almost make out a block ATM on their jersey.

Tell me more about your “we don’t need a ton to win” taek. I like to simmer in optimism.

MF: Well, recent play isn’t always a very good harbinger of NCAA Tournament success, so looking past how good they’ve been lately and looking at their whole resume, this isn’t that good of a team. By KenPom, they’d be the lowest rated team we’d have lost to all season (though admittedly just barely behind LSU and Mississippi State.)

And, the biggest thing, we have Tyler Davis and they don’t. If we just play moderately smart basketball (which admittedly is a problem sometimes…) and work the ball inside, I don’t see how they stop us.

Of course this all comes with the usual caveat that obviously if they go one shining moment from beyond the arc we’re going to have problems. But, we are better than they are.

GT: This feels like a good time for me to note that I love the One Shining Moment montage unironically and with my whole heart. I don’t understand those who mock it, as there is no reason to hate something so full of joy and wonder.

MF: I may or may not know all the lyrics. Spoiler alert, I do.

GT: Well, let’s talk about our best chance at appearing on that montage: Advancing past the opening round to face the winner of North Carolina and Lipscomb. Assuming things go well for us on Friday and UNC takes care of business… do you see any hope for us in what is effectively a road game in Charlotte, NC?

MF: Well, I’ll be honest, from my in-depth research, I do think we would match up better with Lipscomb.

GT: You’re destined to burn those edges.

MF: I know, I live dangerously. But, under the blanket statement that obviously North Carolina is better than we are and that it’s not a particularly good match up, I do think they’re the weakest of the two seeds.

And (takes a shot of distilled maroon kool-aid) we’ve been at our best this season in high-tempo games other than the road game at Arkansas where they made like 382 threes. And I do honestly think that preparing to defend Davis and Williams in just two days would be pretty difficult.

But no not really, but that’s why it’s March Madness, maybe we make a few shots we normally wouldn’t, they miss a few they normally wouldn’t and who knows.

GT: Have you heard the story about the Texas Hollywood hopeful who dreamed of going West? She went to LA by way of Charlotte.

MF: I’m not familiar with the story, but that is the usual way...

GT: Right. I think there’s a chance we follow in her footsteps, as our ceiling is absolutely “beat UNC in Charlotte” high. We haven’t hit that ceiling too often, lately… but I truly believe it’s still there. That’s part of what has made this team maddening to follow, but it’s also part of what makes this tournament so appealing for A&M supporters.

This isn’t the limited #10 seed that Mark Turgeon dragged to the tourney in his final year. This team is absolutely capable of cycling up and advancing from this pod.

Man, that distilled maroon kool-aid is good stuff.

MF: I got it from a guy in North Zulch, it’s not “legal” per se, but a few shots of it and you’ll start thinking thoughts like “if Starks can play under control and we’re patient at getting the ball to Davis then we can probably start looking up restaurants in San Antonio.”

GT: You should probably check the recommended dosage.

MF: IT’S MARCH BABY THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS RECOMMENDED DOSAGE

GT: HELL YES LET’S DO THIS

MF: WE PLAY PRETTY EARLY ON FRIDAY DO YOU THINK I SHOULD MIX IT WITH COFFEE?

GT: MAYBE WATER OR SOME POWERADE BUT YEAH

MF: Cool, cool, yeah I think I’m ready. Final note for any Ags who for some reason can’t get hyped about March Madness because of some of the ups and downs of this season, I think this is only the fifth time in school history we’ve been a seven seed or better. So up or down or whatever, these don’t come around very often!

GT: They don’t, and I hope our fans can get out of their own heads for 24 hours and enjoy the day. Sure, there is no shortage of long-term program-trajectory topics that can keep us busy from April 1st until Maroon Madness next October. But this Friday, Texas A&M is playing in the NCAA Tournament, and watching your team in the dance is one of the coolest things in sports.

BTHO Providence?

MF: And UNC? (sets down shot glass…)

GT: And UNC. With any luck, we can talk again next week with eyes on the Final Four.

MF: Basically a done deal IMO.

GT: Call it the dateless national title plaque effect. See you next week.

Poll

How do you feel about Texas A&M’s chances this weekend?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    We’ll handle Providence, but UNC will be our undoing
    (107 votes)
  • 18%
    BOOK ME A TRIP OUT WEST
    (54 votes)
  • 45%
    I’m just happy to be here
    (134 votes)
295 votes total Vote Now