As Texas A&M fans, all of us are still reeling from a 17-point demolishing at the hands of Penn State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. It was a very disappointingly abrupt (and decisive) end to what many Aggies thought had the potential for a deep tournament run.
But is it A&M’s most painful tournament loss in recent memory? To do that, we’re gonna inflict even more pain on you by going back and reviewing every March Madness loss the team has endures this century. You were probably already doing this in your head, so let’s make it official.
9. 3 Michigan 99, 7 Texas A&M 72
2018 Sweet 16
Advancing further in the tournament is usually just a setup for even bigger heartbreak, but 2018 seemed to be the exception to that rule. The Aggies limped into the tournament as a 7 seed in 2018 after going 9-9 in SEC play, and not many fans expected much tournament success. But they then proceeded to taken down 10 seed Providence before absolutely demolishing 2 see North Carolina 86-65 to advance to the Sweet 16. Yes, getting blown out by Michigan isn’t how you want to end things, but I can’t recall a team that seemed to be playing with house money in the tournament more than this one.
8. 1 UConn 92, 9 Texas A&M 66
2009 Round of 32
Once again, a blowout to end the season is never fun. But if you’re gonna do it, doing it against a 1 seed led by Kemba Walker and Hasheem Thabeet certainly takes away some of the sting. UConn was a Final Four team, and there was no shame in running into that buzz saw.
7. 2 Oklahoma 77, 3 Texas A&M 63
2016 Sweet 16
I’m starting to sense a theme here that losing to a higher seed seems to sting less (but you’ll see later that’s far from a universal truth. This game took place less than a week after A&M’s miracle 12-point comeback in the final seconds to defeat Northern Iowa in the second round, so while it was still a sad way to end the season, A&M fans definitely got more than our allotted amount of sports joy from this tournament run.
6. 10 Florida State 57, 7 Texas A&M 50
2011 Round of 64
Until yesterday, this was the only first round exit this century for the Aggies, unexpectedly falling to the Seminoles. But rather than a shocking loss, it felt more like the sign of a continued malaise of the program under head coach Mark Turgeon. He took a program that Billy Gillispie had turned into a Sweet 16 team and proceeded to never get out of the first weekend. Of course, this first round exit also turned out to be Turgeon’s last game coaching the Aggies, as he left for Maryland and A&M went on to hire Wichita State’s Billy Kennedy.
5. 4 LSU 58, 12 Texas A&M 57
2006 Round of 32
OK, here’s where they start to hurt. You could easily say that this team was playing with house money, and in many ways you’d be right. In his second season, Billy Gillispie had gotten the Aggies back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1987, and even pulled off a 12/5 upset over Syracuse in round one. But for me, being just one year removed from being a student, I BELIEVED this team could do more, and they really almost did. But LSU hit a go-ahead three-pointer with just three seconds to play, and A&M could not get a shot off on their final possession (even if I still maintain that Acie Law was fouled on the inbound). This one will always sting a little bit but that is softened by how much this team overachieved.
4. 10 Penn State 76, 7 Texas A&M 59
2023 Round of 64
For the second time this century, A&M lost to a lower seed in the NCAA Tournament. As it turns out, both times in the first round, and both times as a 7 losing to a 10. I know we all believed this team was capable of more, but in some ways (and I may be in the minority here), the blowout nature of this game actually makes it less painful. Even if the Aggies played well, they weren’t gonna beat a Penn State team who shoots better than 60% from three-point range. Blowout losses hurt a lot in the moment, but the close losses are the ones that stick with you for years, because you can look back and how if just one play had gone differently the outcome of the game would have changed.
3. 4 Purdue 63, 5 Texas A&M 61
2010 Round of 32
Choosing between this one and the Penn State game was tough for me, but I think this one just edges out this year’s loss from a pain perspective. The Aggies had disposed of 12 seed Utah State in the first round with ease, and seemed poised for a Sweet 16 berth. They were up 7 at the half, but ultimately the game went to over time, and Purdue made the go-ahead layup with just four seconds left. Amazingly, despite this happening in the Youtube era, this is the best available video of it:
Last-second losses that keep you from making it to the second weekend just hit different. Speaking of which.
2. 1 UCLA 51, 9 Texas A&M 49
2008 Round of 32
If you recognized the lead image for this article, you knew this one was coming. While there’s no shame in losing to a 1 seed (especially one that advanced to the Final Four), the way this game ended continues to haunt Aggie fans to this day. The game was tied until UCLA’s Darren Collison hit a layup with 12 seconds to go to put the Bruins up by two. Then this happened:
Obviously missed calls happen, and refs tend to let guys play at the end of games. But man, having two defenders’ hands on the shooter’s arms is a tough pill to swallow. And the fact that the Bruins would go on to win their next two games after this didn’t make it any easier.
1. 2 Memphis 65, 3 Texas A&M 64
2007 Sweet 16
This one may never be topped for me. A&M entered the tournament as a 3 seed (their highest seed ever), and were a trendy darkhorse pick to make the Final Four. As an A&M fan, I had never entered the postseason with so much confidence. After taking out Penn in round one and Rick Pitino’s Louisville squad in round two, the Aggies had a showdown with John Calipari’s Memphis Tigers IN SAN ANTONIO. The Aggies played well throughout, and had the chance to take command when, Acie Law IV, one of the most clutch players in Aggie history, bricked a layup that would have put A&M up by three with less than a minute to play. Instead, Memphis got the ball back and, after a slew of offensive rebounds, drew a foul with just seconds to play (WAIT THEY CALL THOSE?!?!). They sank both, and it was over. Pain.
We’ll never know how the rest of that game (and that tournament) would have played out if Acie hits that layup. But did I spend an unhealthy amount of time thinking about it. Memphis would get blown out by 1 seed Ohio State (led by Mike Conley and Greg Oden) just two days later, so maybe the Aggies would have suffered the same fate. I sure would have liked to find out.
So while you’re wallowing in sport misery today, remember that you’ve been even more miserable before!
Which March Madness loss hurt the most to you?
2023 Penn State
2011 Florida State