The Texas A&M Aggies (22-9, 11-5 SEC) have had an impressive season to date. That 11-5 SEC record was good enough to get them a tie for second place in the conference (Mississippi St) and secure them a #4 seed and the hosting privileges that come with it. The Aggies have impressive wins over Mississippi St, Tennessee and Missouri. They also have an impressive one point loss to South Carolina in Columbia on their resume.
The Aggies aren't a team that will shoot opponents out of the gym. They shoot a more that respectable .443 from the field but they only shoot .298 from behind the arc and only average 2.3 triples a game. TAMU is a team that wins with defense and rebounding. They only allow opponents to shoot .377 from the field and .283 from deep. They also out rebound their opponents by 3.9 per game.
The first name on FSU's scouting report will be Courtney Walker. The 5'8 senior guard is a two time All-American who leads the Aggies in scoring at 18.5 per game. She is also second on the team in rebounds and assists. Walker is a bit of a throwback. She gets her points on the interior, in transition and with her mid-range game. She basically shuns the three ball. She is only 4-20 from three for the year. However, she does an excellent job of getting to the free throw line where she shoots 86%. Walker is only six points away from the A&M career scoring record. She is a very tough player to handle and if she is living at the line tomorrow FSU will be in trouble.
The Aggies have other players to watch out for in this game. 5'6 senior point guard Jordan Jones (7.7pts, 6.0 asts) was named 2nd team All-SEC and had the most assists in the SEC for the third straight year. She is the only real three point shooter on the team and she shoots at a .341 rate. 5'11 freshman Anriel Howard set a NCAA Women's Tournament record by snaring 27 rebounds yesterday against Missouri St. That is not a misprint. She got 27 boards (8off, 19def). Howard only averages 6.3 boards a game (4.5 pts) so some regression to the mean should be expected. However if she gets anywhere near that total tomorrow she will solve one of TAMU's biggest problems in the game.
Normally we would discuss second leading scorer Courtney Williams next but the 6'1 senior wing has been suspended indefinitely (along with backup guard Shlonte Allen) for breaking team rules. The announcement was made 40 minutes before yesterday's game against Missouri State. Williams averages 12.5 points and 4.8 rebounds a game. There has been no official announcement regarding her status for tomorrow's game. However, the latest information is that she is not expected to play tomorrow. If she doesn't play it will obviously be a big break for the Seminoles.
This game is one of the most anticipated in the second round. Graham Hays and Michelle Voepel of ESPN both said before the tournament that (5) Florida State vs. (4) Texas A&M is the best potential second round matchup. The committee likely spent quite a bit of time determining which team would get the fourth seed. FSU has a higher ranking in both polls and a better RPI. Sagarin also ranks FSU nine spots higher than A&M. The reason the Aggies got the nod is probably that they had those wins we talked about earlier and they had that close loss in Columbia. However, they also have a terrible loss to 12-18 Arkansas on their resume. It's a fairly close call but the Noles will have their chance to prove the committee wrong tomorrow.
A&M is not a one-woman team but if FSU can do the job against Walker they will be a lot closer to winning this game. Obviously Howard dominated the glass against Missouri St but the Bears aren't FSU. The Noles are one of the best rebounding teams in the nation (5th in rebounding margin). A big key will be whether FSU can out rebound the Aggies by a significant margin. Leticia Romero also needs to continue the aggressive play that she has been displaying of late.
FSU played very solid basketball against Middle Tennessee, especially in the second half. If they can continue that type of play tomorrow they will have a great shot to earn a second straight trip to the Sweet 16.
The game is scheduled to tip tomorrow at 6:30pm from College Station (ESPN 2 or ESPN 3). Sagarin has FSU as a .5 point favorite in College Station. However, that line was made without factoring in the suspension of Williams. If she doesn't play you can safely adjust that line a couple of points in FSU's favor.