Third-seeded Texas A&M got a second half scare when they allowed No. 14 Penn climb back from a 15-point deficit, but Acie Law, Joseph Jones and Dominique Kirk combined to put the game out of reach and the Aggies in to the NCAA tournament's second round.
What awaits the Aggies (26-6) is quite possibly the toughest match up for a higher seed in the second round of the tournament. A&M will face sixth-seed Louisville (24-9) in at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ken., which is just 77 miles from the Louisville campus. Rupp will certainly be full of Louisville fans, which will give the Aggies the feel of being on the road.
But that might just be what the doctor ordered. Ever since A&M dropped a double overtime classic in Austin to Texas the Aggies have been in a funk. It seems that they are playing without the chip on their shoulder that fans, and opponents, have come to expect. Playing in a hostile environment might be the light to the fire. Just ask Kansas how A&M responds to the pressure.
Louisville, however, is one of the hottest teams in America. After starting off on e a bad foot in the non-conference season, the Cardinals righted the ship and finished the Big East conference season 12-4, including a seven-game win streak in February and March that included back-to-back road wins over Pittsburgh and Marquette.
The Cardinals play a suffocating full court press on defense that played havoc with Stanford's young players in the first round. It might not work against A&M's experienced guards, but head coach Rick Pitino is one of the best tournament coaches in the game and will certainly come up with new wrinkles for the Aggies.
A&M and Louisville is one of the best match ups of the tournament's first weekend, and it all tips off Saturday at 2:40 p.m.
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