Time: 9:30 p.m. ET
Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Where to watch: ESPN
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Texas A&M -1.5
BetMGM: Texas A&M -1.5
Caesars: Texas A&M -1.5
Washington State: 22-14
Texas A&M: 26-12
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Washington State - Texas A&M preview and analysis
Washington State: won 77-58 at BYU in quarterfinals
Texas A&M: won 67-52 vs. Wake Forest in quarterfinals
The nightcap for the NIT semifinals might not be as good of a game as the first one, but I would firmly like to believe that we are going to be in for an entertaining late-night basketball game in Madison Square Garden.
The Washington State Cougars will take on the Texas A&M Aggies following Saint Bonaventure facing Xavier in the first semifinal matchup. One program has certainly had an easier road to get to the semifinals then the other. The Aggies have won three straight home games, including a 67-52 victory over Wake Forest to get to the last four remaining in this tournament.
It's hard to look at a box score sometimes and see the 13 players actually played in a single college basketball game that was only decided by 15 points, but it turns out we have reached that point with this last game against Wake Forest. Only three players scored in double figures, led by wade Taylor and Quenton Jackson each scoring 12 points in the victory despite the team shooting 39% combined from the floor.
The good news for the Aggies is that their defense was superb in this matchup. They held Wake Forest to 34% shooting from the floor and were just shooting at 6 of 27 from 3 point range. Now while that might not be as impressive as the Aggies shooting 5 of 23, it was about as lopsided of a game as it could be considering Wake Forest made only 10 of 16 from the free-throw line.
The biggest difference was Texas A and M forcing 21 turnovers as opposed to committing only 12 for themselves, and recording 14 steals led by four from Jackson. In short, the question becomes does this team really belong here? They've apparently gotten this far just by winning random games at home and relying on the home crowd. Going on the road so to speak in Madison Square Garden might be a completely different situation, especially given the opponent.
Washington state, meanwhile, had to play two road games against very good teams in order to reach the semifinals of this tournament. Not only did Washington state knock off a very tough team in SMU in Dallas, but Washington state went to Provo and defeated BYU 77- 58 in one of the more ridiculous runs of road basketball we have seen in quite a while.
Michael flowers led the way with 27 points on 11 of 20 shooting and making four of his ten three-point attempts. Dishon Jackson had 14 points in 21 minutes on 7 of 9 shooting while Tyrell Roberts also had 11 but shot just 3 of 9 to get there.
Washington state has not been known as a team to make such a run this season due to how stacked the PAC 12 was, but it is good to see this team virtually come out of nowhere and play well in these final few games to get this chance add a championship. Flowers will carry them for as long as he can and there is enough shooting to go around after going nine of 27 from 3 point range that they should play a lot better against this Aggies team that is very questionable outside of its defense.
I would lean to call this SEC bias as it pertains to the Aggies. They're getting some favorable looks in the books as one and a half point favorites and I'm not sure if this sort of game favors them knowing it's a neutral site and they haven't scored well enough to put themselves in a position to win. I am going to take Washington state to win this game simply on the premise that they are much better shooting team and have shown the capability going on the road these last two games to shut down opponents when they get in their offensive sets. So I will take the Cougars in what should be an interesting victory to where I hope they face Saint Bonaventure in the finals and provide a great game. Washington State by 10
Washington State is 3-6 ATS in its last nine neutral-court games.
Washington State is 16-20 ATS in all games this season.
Washington State is 1-9 ATS in its last 10 after covering four or five of its last six.
Texas A&M is 13-19 ATS in its last 32 as a favorite.
The under is 105-61 since 1997 after Texas A&M plays a non-conference game.
The under is 18-7 after Texas A&M records three straight unders or more.
Projected starting lineup
PG: Noah Williams
SG: Tyrell Roberts
SF: Michael Flowers
PF: Efe Abogidi
C: Mouhamed Gueye
PG: Marcus Williams
SG: Andre Gordon
SF: Tyrece Radford
PF: Ethan Henderson
C: Henry Coleman III
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