Texas A&M or Penn State? How to pick 7 vs. 10 matchup in 2023 March Madness bracket

The number 10 in the NCAA tournament isn’t as successful as the number 9, but you can count on at least one first-round win every year.

The number 10 has beaten the number 7 39 per cent of the time since the group expanded in 1985, although that mark fell slightly last season when only one came out on top.

Will Penn State be a winning No. 10 this season? The Nittany Lions have had an impressive run in conference tournaments and a first-round elimination will be a deeply disappointing ending.

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Their opponent, Texas A&M, was widely considered the biggest nudge of last year’s NCAA tournament, but the Aggies left no doubt this year. They finished second behind Alabama in the SEC, making up for a rough performance outside of the conference.

Texas A&M is a defense first team with a great backcourt and a head coach with tournament experience in Buzz Williams.

Penn State had not contested the NCAA tournament since 2011, although the Nittany Lions would have ended the drought in 2020 had the tournament not been canceled. With assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry at the helm and jack-of-all-trades guard Jalen Pickett at the helm, Penn State was three points short of the Big Ten tournament title. This is a program on the rise.

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The Sporting News breaks down what should be a fun duel in the NCAA tournament and takes a look at how to pick this 7v10 game:

Odds between Texas A&M and Penn State

If you’re looking forward to watching Texas A&M and Penn State go head-to-head on Thursday, you’ll have to wait a while. This is the 15th game of 16 on Thursday’s schedule; it is scheduled to expire at 9:55 p.m. ET.

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Texas A&M opened as a favorite, although the line indicates we could see a close game.

  • Opportunities: Texas A&M -2.5
  • Date: Thursday March 16th
  • Time: 9:55 p.m. ET
  • TV: TBS
  • Arena: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa

Texas A&M (25-9, 15-3 SEC)

The Aggies looked like they were headed for another year without an NCAA tournament as they suffered heavy losses in non-conference play, but their defense made all the difference against SEC opponents. Texas A&M allows 65.7 points per game, with opponents shooting just 40.5 percent from the field.

Wade Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford give the Aggies one of the best two-way backcourts in the nation, and backcourts tend to be even more important at this stage of the season.

Texas A&M is coached by Buzz Williams, who is in his fourth season at College Station. Williams reached an Elite Eight with Marquette and a Sweet 16 with Virginia Tech. This is his first tournament appearance with the Aggies.

  • NET Ranking: 19
  • KenPom Ranking: 25
  • Quad 1 record: 7-6
  • Quad 2 record: 5-1
  • Quad 3 record: 6-0
  • Quad 4 record: 7-2
  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 30
  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 37

key figures

Wade Taylor IV, G, Soph. (6-0, 186): 16.6 ppg, 4.0 apg, 1.8 ppg

Tyrece Radford, G, Sr. (6-2, 200): 13.3 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 2.5 apg

Henry Coleman, F, Jr. (6-7, 229): 9.5 ppg, 5.6 rpg

Julius Marble, F, Jr. (6-8, 225): 9.2 ppg, 4.3 rpg

Dexter Dennis, G, Sr. (6-5, 210): 9.0 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.2 apg

Penn State (22-13, 10-10 Big Ten)

Penn State went into the season with serious NCAA hopes but found itself on the wrong side of the bubble for most of the stretch run. However, as other Big Ten teams slipped, the Nittany Lions picked up some big wins and played themselves into consideration.

Her Big Ten tournament run left no doubt. The Nittany Lions made it to the conference title game, where a comeback against Purdue fell short.

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Penn State is led by guard Jalen Pickett, who is the rare nighttime triple-double threat at the college level. He does just about anything offensively and will be a big challenge for Texas A&M defense. Pickett aside, the Nittany Lions can rival any team with a collection of dangerous marksmen.

Penn State is led by sophomore coach Micah Shrewsberry. He had two separate stints as an assistant at Purdue, interspersed with a six-year stint as an assistant with the Celtics under Brad Stevens.

  • NET Ranking: 49
  • KenPom Ranking: 39
  • Quad 1 record: 7-7
  • Quad 2 record: 5-5
  • Quad 3 record: 4-1
  • Quad 4 record: 6-0
  • Offensive efficiency ranking: 17
  • Defensive efficiency ranking: 101

key figures

Jalen Pickett, G, Sr. (6-4, 202): 18.1 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 6.6 apg

Seth Lundy, F, Sr. (6-6, 219): 14.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg

Andrew Funk, G, Sr. (6-5, 188): 12.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.1 apg

Camren Wynter, G, Sr. (6-2, 175): 8.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.9 apg

Myles Dread, G, Sr. (6-4, 220): 5.2 ppg, 2.1 rpg

Texas A&M vs. Penn State Prediction

This will be one of the first round toss-up matchups, and for good reason. Both teams played their best basketball of the season before selection Sunday. Penn State might have just a slight advantage.

The experience of the Nittany Lions is remarkable: All five starters are seniors. Penn State also has the shooters needed to win in March, shooting 38.7 percent from 3-point range as a three-starter team over 40 percent.

Texas A&M will have their hands full with Pickett, who can use his goalscoring ability to take over games some nights and become a distributor other nights. Could a preoccupation with Pickett allow Penn State shooters to look their best? It’s certainly possible.

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On the other hand, the Nittany Lions’ shaky defense doesn’t exactly fit the picture of a team winning in March. On the bright side, however, Penn State’s biggest defensive weakness may be its size. Texas A&M has a protection-heavy attack, led by Taylor and Radford, that may be easier for Shrewsberry’s team to handle.

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The Aggies could get big man Henry Coleman to make an impact near the basket, but he’s not much taller than the Penn State bigs and hasn’t been a major offensive threat this season.

Teams need to shoot well to win consistently at this tournament, and Penn State doesn’t have to worry about that. Beating that Aggies defense won’t be easy, but the attention Pickett commands could open things up for the Nittany Lions.

The TeamRankings Predictor Tool provides insight into every NCAA tournament matchup. TeamRankings subscribers also get access to custom, data-driven tips as they make their selections.

History of 7v10 matches in the NCAA tournament

If the Nittany Lions pull off the easy upset, they certainly won’t be the first No. 10 to win. Since the NCAA tournament expanded in 1985, more than 39 percent of all No. 10 seeds have gone head-to-head with a No. 7 seed.

Only one No. 10 seed won last year when Miami narrowly escaped USC, but the Hurricanes made the most of it and went on to win through to the Elite Eight. Two No. 10 seeds won in 2021 and three won in 2019.

Below is a breakdown of which #10 seeds have beaten the #7 seeds since 2009.

Year Result
2022 Miami (Florida) 68, USC 66
2021 Maryland 63, UConn 54
Rutgers 60, Clemson 56
2019 Florida 70, Nevada 61
Iowa 79, Cincinnati 72
Minnesota 86, Louisville 76
2018 Butler 79, Arkansas 62
2017 State of Wichita 64, Dayton 58
2016 VCU 75, Oregon State 67
Syracuse 70, Dayton 51
2015 State of Ohio 75, VCU 72
2014 Stanford 58, New Mexico 53
2013 State of Iowa 76, Notre Dame 58
2012 Xavier 67, Notre Dame 63
Purdue 72, Saint Mary’s 69
2011 State of Florida 57, Texas A&M 50
2010 Georgia Tech 64, Oklahoma State 59
Missouri 86, Clemson 78
Saint Mary’s 80, Richmond 71
2009 USC 72, Boston College 55
Maryland 84, Cal 71
Michigan 62, Clemson 59

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