Texas A&M faces Oklahoma in the Sweet 16 on Thursday in what shapes up as one of the most interesting games of the entire NCAA Tournament. The winner will play either Oregon or Duke in the West Region's final on Saturday.
On one side: the Aggies, coming off one of the most improbable comeback victories in the history of organized sports. On the other: the Sooners, led by National Player of the Year candidate and bucket-getter extraordinaire Buddy Hield. The game has talent and plenty of subtext, pitting the former Big 12 member Aggies against their former conference peers, the Sooners. This time, they're meeting with everything on the line.
Hield is the biggest story in every game he plays these days, and with good reason. He averages 25.4 points per game with the following shooting splits: 46.3 percent on three-pointers, 82 percent on two-pointers and 50 percent overall on more than 16 shots from the field per game. That's remarkable productivity, and Hield will be a terror for Aggies coach Billy Kennedy, who has to somehow game-plan to contain him. The Sooners have other scorers, too, including a pair of double-figure guards in Jordan Woodard and Isaiah Cousins.
The Aggies counter with an impressive scoring attack of their own. They've scored a solid 76 points per game this year, which isn't Oklahoma's 80 but is still an impressive figure. Seniors Danuel House and Jalen Jones pull a lot of the weight offensively at better than 15 points per game, but the Aggies' greatest strength lies in their defense. They surrender just 65 points per game and are 13th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency. They've also held opponents to 33 percent three-point shooting for the season, which stacks up well for their efforts to keep Hield from exploding.
To get to this point, Texas A&M beat Green Bay and then Northern Iowa in the first two rounds. Oklahoma got past Cal State Bakersfield by 14 points in its first game and then edged VCU by four points in the round of 32 to punch its ticket to the regional semifinal.
Who: No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies vs. No. 2 Oklahoma Sooners
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif.
When: 7:37 p.m. ET
TV information: TBS
Online: NCAA March Madness Live
Radio: Westwood One