Big 12 Spotlight 03-19-08 ( .PDF )
If this season is any indication, there's no possible way of telling how Texas A&M will fare against BYU at 6:25 p.m. Thursday in Anaheim, Calif.
This is because the Aggies are frustratingly the most perplexing team in this year's NCAA Tournament.
Best of luck to the poor basketball zealots who evaluate A&M and BYU to choose a winner for his or her bracket. You might as well put both names in a hat and pick blindfolded.
Texas A&M was not supposed to be a No. 9 seed in this game. In their first exhibition game way back on Nov. 1, the Aggies were ranked No. 14 in the nation.
Now, the only possible reward of winning in round one is advancing to face perennial title contender UCLA in round two in Anaheim, Calif.
At this point, A&M should be given a 10 percent chance, at best, of advancing to the Sweet 16.
To start the season, the Sweet 16 looked like a realistic goal for the Aggies. They were 15-1 and near the top of the conference with then-undefeated Kansas.
Since then, the Aggies have gone 9-9.
It's been an up-and-down roller coaster that A&M first-year coach Mark Turgeon described as "the most frustrating season I've been through as a coach."
Who can blame him?
A&M blitzed Texas Tech by 44 points on Feb. 27 in a 98-54 victory. In their next game, the Aggies scored 37 points against Oklahoma and lost by 27.
Winning by 44 and losing by 27 in consecutive games isn't the sign of the most consistent of teams.
However, in dissecting the 9-9 finish, the Aggies had some impressive showings. Due to its inconsistency, A&M didn't receive a bye in the Big 12 tournament last weekend, but still won two games before falling to the eventual-champion Jayhawks.
A&M played inspired, hard-nosed basketball in the Big 12 tournament. For instance, the Aggies received tragic news that sophomore guard Donald Sloan's mother passed away the morning of March 13, the same day A&M faced Iowa State in Kansas City, Mo. In an unfathomable situation, Sloan stepped on the court that day and played for his mother and his teammates. A&M defeated Iowa State, 60-47.
After defeating Kansas State a day later, A&M exerted its physical nature against Kansas and nearly dethroned the Jayhawks. Post man Bryan Davis stepped in for DeAndre Jordan, who had the flu, and scored 16 points and grabbed seven boards. A&M outrebounded KU, 35-25. This was the style expected from A&M, a team that Big 12 coaches regularly say has one of the best front courts in the nation.
The way the Aggies have played lately, having them advance on day one is understandable. Due to their inconsistency, though, that's as far as they're going to go.