Sweet 16 Texas A&M Preview

Submitted by Bambi on March 18th, 2018 at 8:09 PM

We're going to be getting a lot of great content from Brian and Ace here as well as Dylan over at UMHoops to prep us for the matchup against Texas A&M, but once A&M went up 15 at the half I got excited and wanted to see who they are, hence this post.

*Disclaimer: I have not watched any film so much of my analysis could be wrong and currently is just educated guessing based on Torvik's profile. Please correct me on anything I am wrong on.

*Slight edits thanks to MH20 and other added info as of 9:15 PM, 3/18/18.

Texas A&M - Resume

  • 22-12, 9-9 in conference, 11-2 non-con
  • 24th on KenPom, 65th AdjO and 8th AdjD (Post UNC game, thanks to MH20)
  • 24th on Torvik, 54th AdjO and 8th AdjD (Post UNC game, thanks to MH20)
  • 7-6 vs Q1, 6-3 vs Q2, 4-1 vs Q3, 4-0 vs Q4
  • Beat Providence 73-69 in R64
  • Beat UNC 86-65 in R32

Good Wins: WVU (N), OK State (N), PSU (N), USC (A), Buffalo (H), Missouri (H), Arkansas (H), Auburn (A), Alabama (H)

Bad Losses: LSU (H, A), Miss. St (H)


Texas A&M - High Level Overview

I gave their KenPom and Torvik ranks above. I'll be using Torvik for the rest of the data since it's free.

The first thing you notice about AM is they're incredibly streaky. They started the year 7-0 and 11-1 in the non con, beating the first 5 teams listed above and only losing to Arizona on a neutral court. 

They followed that up with 5 straight loses to start SEC play, then back-to-back wins and back-to-back losses, then 4 straight wins, 3 straight loses, 3 straight wins, a first day loss to Bama in the SEC tourney, and then the two NCAA wins to get here.

Obviously based on the past two games it seems like they're on a hot streak so lets hope the 4 days off and location change put them on the cold side.


Looking at their in depth Torvik profile, it's pretty clear that defense is their calling card. They have the 12th best eFG% defense in the nation, a top 35 3P%, 2P%, and FT% D, as well as a top 60 FT rate defense. The one thing they don't do is turn people over with the 317th best TO% in the nation, and they are also an average defensive rebounding team.

If you look at their conference only stats though, their D is a lot less effective. They go from a 93 AdjD rating to 95.8, which was 9th best in the SEC. That 95.8 would be tied with Rhode Island for the 45th best AdjD in the nation over the full season. Comparatively Michigan has an 89.7 season AdjD rating and a 92.5 conference rating.

The rest of their defensive stats drop as well. eFG% goes from 46.5 to 48.9, TO% drops slightly, OR allowed % goes from 27.9 to 29.6, FT rate goes from 28.8 to 32, opponents 3P% goes from 32.4 to 36.2, and 2P% goes slightly up from 45.3 to 46.

They do an average job of allowing 3's as 37.5% of opponent's shots were 3s this season (186th in the nation), although this dropped to 35.9% in conference. 57.3% of opponents makes were assisted this year on the season (293rd in the nation), which dropped to 48.9 in conference.

So what does this all mean? Well most team's see a drop in production conference play as competition level goes up, but with A&M a lot of this is probably related to their streakiness as well.

The constants here though are that they don't turn you over, allow offensive rebounds, and allow a lot of 3's and assists. These all seem like things Michigan can exploit so lets hope Michigan does, our offense wakes up and they are on a cold streak.


On offense the Aggies are a lot more consistent. They had an AdjO of 112.4 for the season and it dropped to 112.2 in the conference. In almost every area they're pretty average-below average except for a few. 

The one area they excel in is offensive rebounding. They rebound 34.3% of their misses for the season, 22nd in the country, and that dropped to 32.9 in conference. 

The only other area of note is their shooting, which is bad. They shot 32.8% from 3 as a team (283rd in the nation) on 33.1 3P shooting rate (286th in the nation). In conference their shooting % dropped to 30.5 while the rate rose to 33.9. 

A&M shoots 66.4% from the line (319th in the nation) on a 32.5 rate (204th in the nation). In conference this percentage dropped to 62.1% (over 6% points worse than Michigan's conference FT shooting percentage) on a 33 FT rate.

Texas A&M - Player Level Overview

All of the advanced stats are against Top 100 competition only

A&M is very big dominant as you may have guessed/already know. They've been playing 8 guys in the tournament so far and 4 of them are 6-9/6-10. They also play a 6-7 G/F along with 2 6-4 G's along side a 6-2 G.

*Left out of this is 6-3 Sr G Duane Wilson, who is 2nd on the team in useage with a 25% useage rate but is out for the season since Feb.

Lets start with 6-10 Jr Tyler Davis. Davis was first team all SEC. Davis averages 14.5 PPG, 9 RPG, and 1.3 blocks a game. He has a shooting split of 58/28/63 on very few 3 point attempts. His ORTG is 113.9 with a 23.5% usage rate. He does everything pretty well offensively you'd expect from a big with a low TO% although doesn't shoot well. His rebounding numbers stand out as great.

The next guy is 6-10 So Robert Williams. Williams was SEC DPOY and is a potential lottery pick. He has a pretty similar profile to Davis, 10.4 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 2.6 BPG. He shoots 62% from the field, 46% from the line and hasn't made a 3 all year. He has an ORTG of 108.5 on 20.2% useage. The rest of his profile is also very similar to Davis, except for his slightly higher TO% and his sky high block%, which is over double Davis' with an 8.8% block rate. Like Davis is also a great rebounder, but especially on the defensive end

The highest useage guy on the team is 6-2 Fr G TJ Starks. He has a 29.2% useage rate with a putrid 88 ORTG. He averages 9.7 PPG, 2.2 APG and 2 RPG on 39/33/64. He doesn't shoot well from 2 or 3, doesn't get to the line often and when he does he struggles to convert, and he doesn't rebound well. He does have a good AST% (21.6) but offsets that with a higher TO% (25).

The guy with the best ORTG (115.3 on 17% useage) and should be the lead guard is 6-4 Jr G Admon Gilder. He averages 12.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG and 2.6 APG on 46/40/82/. He's the only guy on the team shooting above 34% from 3 against Top 100 opponents and one of 2 guys who plays major minutes that's above 66% from the line. He's pretty much average in every other area advanced stats wise.

The other decent shooter and last starter is 6-9 Jr DJ Hogg. He averages 11.1 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 2.5 APG on 41/38/73. He has a 106 ORTG on 17.4% useage. Like Gilder he's not just a 3P shooter but that's what he does best and he's fairly average at everything else, although his rebounding his significantly worse than the other two bigs mentioned.

All of these guys get at least 52% of available minutes vs top 100 opponents. The only other guy who plays starters minutes is the last big guy 6-10 Sr Tonny Trocha-Morelos. He averages 6.8 PPG, 4.4 RPG and 1.2 APG on 41/31/59. He has a 104.3 ORTG on 15.8% useage. He seems to be more of a stretch big as against Top 100 opponents, he's attempted 66 3s to 79 2s, although he only hits 32% from 3. He has a decent block rate and low TO rate but very average rebounding numbers, like Hogg.

The last two rotation players are 6-7 F Savion Flagg and 6-4 G Jay Jay Chandler, both Fr. Chandler doesn't do anything well yet uses almost 20% of possessions of the floor with an 86.4 ORTG, while Flagg is pretty average except for his above average OR% keeping his ORTG at 101.5. Flagg plays more than Chandler but both are rotation guys.

Texas A&M - Takeaways

So despite the murder of UNC we just saw, I actually think we match up well with A&M. Like I said/showed, they are a bad 3P shooting team and while they're a decent 3P defending team % wise, they don't do a great job of stopping teams from shooting 3's. In this game A&M shot 42% from 3 on 24 attempts while UNC shot 19% on 31 attempts. I don't think we'll see that again from them on Thursday.

One of their biggest strengths defensively is their size. They are a great shot blocking team because of their length/athleticism. That being said, we won't generally be attacking their bigs one-on-one in the post. Our ability to spread them 5 wide should mitigate that advantage by opening up the middle for guards to drive and score.

Related to that, A&M by their profile seems to be a much more traditional big oriented team. They don't have a stretch big (minus Trocha-Morelas who seems psuedo-stretch at best) which bodes well for us defensively, but even more so when we're on offense. Their bigs are going to have the come to the perimeter to guard Mo/Duncan where they probably aren't comfortable. If they don't, and try to clog the lane, we'll have open 3's for days. Once they do come outside I would think they'd struggle defending the perimeter. If they try to switch everything Z will be matched on a big where he can use his quickness to his advantage or Mo will have a small guy to post up on. I also don't think the bigs will be great at defending the pick and pop so Mo should have a lot of open looks there as well. 

One thing we've heard a lot about is what a great job Michigan does at creating a shot disparity between us and the opponent. This seems like another game where we can do that, as A&M doesn't turn people over or do a great job of preventing them. Hopefully a big advantage an be created here for Michigan.

The only good part of A&M's offense is their OReb, which they will use to try and reduce that shot gap I mentioned. However we just played a great OReb team in Houston (33.8% compared to A&M's 34.3%) and held them to a 26% OReb rate. Similarly we have had great success in that department against MSU, one of the best OReb teams in the nation. Houston and MSU could both shoot the 3 great as well, while A&M generally doesn't so the guards should be able to sag off a little and help here as well. I think we should be able to mitigate this one strength of A&M.

The biggest struggle for us will be guarding the post. Davis and Williams will both be tough to handle down low, especially since Wagner isn't a great defender. It might be similar to Haas vs Wagner. A&M can make their mark and win the game down low. Unlike Purdue, however, A&M doesn't have 4 sharpshooters surrounding their bigs so we can help on Davis/Williams. My guess would be a lot of perimeter guys coming to swipe at the ball during post ups and some doubles like we've seen Beilein do to Ward before. Hopefully drawing them away from the rim on defense and abusing them on the perimeter will force A&Ms hand to go small as well.

The last advantage is coaching. I'd take Beilein over all, but especially over Billy Kennedy who's made 4 NCAA tournaments in his 18 year coaching career and only one previous Sweet Sixteen, where he lost.

I'm not going to make a prediciton, but I really like this matchup for us.


Buddy the Wolverine

March 18th, 2018 at 8:27 PM ^

Big John will be tasked with slowing down their post scoring, grabbing boards on both ends and draining mid range shots a la the Purdue championship game. A lot on his big shoulders especially if Moe's struggles continue. Hope he can avoid foul trouble and be a difference maker on both ends. Go Blue!


March 18th, 2018 at 8:46 PM ^

This is excellent info. I hope your assessment is accurate. It sounds like it will come down to our ability to keep their D on its heels by hitting 3’s and creating mismatches through the inevitable switching they will do.


March 18th, 2018 at 9:02 PM ^

Shame on me, but I hadn't thought two seconds about these guys. I thought for sure we'd be playing North Carolina. I guess North Carolina got caught looking ahead, too. Looks like we match up well.


March 18th, 2018 at 9:07 PM ^

A&M has moved up to #24 on Kenpom with the #65 offense and #8 defense.

On Torvik, they are now #24 with the #54 offense and #8 defense.


March 18th, 2018 at 10:16 PM ^

Great stuff.

I'd be more worried about this matchup if Michigan only had a day to prepare.  But with almost a week, there are problems with A&M (especially on offense) that Michigan can exploit.  They aren't a good outside shooting team, and this result against UNC notwithstanding, don't seem able to get more points than their opposition typically gives up.  Like, Georgia gives up 67 a game, A&M scores 61.  Alabama gives up 71 a game, they score 70.  Providence gives up 73 a game, A&M scores 73.  

So this feels like a game where Michigan can probably hold them to around 63-64 points, and then it's just a matter of hitting enough shots to sneak ahead.  It'll be another ugly game for stretches, but it's definitely more winnable than UNC would have felt.


March 18th, 2018 at 11:24 PM ^

Thanks Bambi. Sounds like a huge game for Teske & Moe. Avoiding foul trouble will be key; I know like 3/4 foul calls on Moe against Houston were very weak, so hopefully we don't get quick whistle refs... but if we do Moe needs to pick his battles and avoid being handsy on his man without the ball. Also the first two rounds featured horrible shooting from us that hopefully was just a fluke or a product of a weird arena. All in all, I do think this is a good matchup for us. And I'll be very interested to see how Poole handles all the fame after the Houston game. Given his confidence & SWAG, I think he'll be OK. GO BLUE!!!!!


March 19th, 2018 at 12:22 AM ^

one big problem has been player discipline. We've had multiple players suspended for key games, which constributed to the streakiness.

Our offense typically flows from dominating the paint and getting rebounds. 

Mo is going to have his hands full. If he continues to play poorly, Michigan will lose.


March 19th, 2018 at 9:06 AM ^

Tyler Davis was a beast in their game against UNC yesterday.  Hopefully we can get some fouls on him early so he doesn't eat anybody.


March 19th, 2018 at 3:05 PM ^

if we are getting foul trouble and destroyed on glass/in paint, play zone and make them shoot it over the top?

likewise, i thought i saw them run zone last night? do they mix it up on D?


March 19th, 2018 at 3:17 PM ^

The UMHoops preview covers this a little but A&M plays zone about 20% of the time and grades out well, though better in man. So we'll probably see some zone.

From our perspective we might zone them, they don't seem like a team that can shoot us out of it. That being said it's generally harder to rebound/box out in a zone so that might be a deterrent against a great rebounding team. My guess would be we start in man as always and play through that unless we have too much foul trouble or we just can't stop them in man.


March 20th, 2018 at 12:38 PM ^

Michigan has to make shots early and often, if they can do that and get an early lead then it will be hard for A&M to keep up with Michigan, especially once the D locks in. 

Keep those clucky ass white uni's home for the rest of the tournament please! Go Blue!