Skip to content
Betting Commercial Content. 21+. Provided by Action Network, official betting partner of The Inquirer.
Link copied to clipboard

March Madness 2023 predictions: Back No. 10 Penn State to cover spread against No. 7 Texas A&M

Grab the points with the Nittany Lions, who are likely headed for a 10th consecutive close game

Senior guard Jalen Pickett led Penn State with 18 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7 assists in the regular season. Pickett and the 10th-seeded Nittany Lions are an underdog against No. 7 seed Texas A&M in Thursday’s NCAA Tournament first-round game. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Senior guard Jalen Pickett led Penn State with 18 points, 7.3 rebounds and 7 assists in the regular season. Pickett and the 10th-seeded Nittany Lions are an underdog against No. 7 seed Texas A&M in Thursday’s NCAA Tournament first-round game. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)Read moreMichael Reaves / Getty Images

Texas A&M is not a frequent March Madness participant, but when the Aggies do score an invite to the dance, they tend to stick around for a bit.

Going back to 2006, Texas A&M has reached at least the second round in seven of its last eight NCAA Tournament appearances.

Penn State, on the other hand? Put it this way: The last time the Nittany Lions tasted victory in the NCAA Tournament, Joe Paterno still had more than a decade to go in his tenure as the school’s football coach.

Oddsmakers expect both trends to continue Thursday night, as the No. 7 seed Aggies are favored to knock out 10th-seeded Penn State in a Midwest Region first-round game in Des Moines, Iowa.

In fact, Texas A&M is laying nearly as many points against the Nittany Lions (3.5) as the favorites in the other No. 7 vs. No. 10 matchups combined (4.5).

Are the Aggies getting a little too much love in the betting market? Short answer: Yep.

Odds updated as of 11 a.m. ET on March 15.

No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 7 Texas A&M Prediction

  1. Penn State +3.5, -115 (at BetMGM)

No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 7 Texas A&M Prediction: Analysis

Penn State (22-12, 20-13-1 ATS) isn’t the only team in the NCAA Tournament that can play the Rodney Dangerfield “no respect” card. Heck, even Texas A&M (25-8, 23-10 ATS) has a bit of an argument.

The Aggies are 19-4 in their last 23 games. They finished alone in second place in the stacked SEC, just one game behind Alabama. And they reached the SEC Tournament final.

OK, so Texas A&M got clobbered 82-63 by Alabama in Sunday’s championship game. But eight days earlier, the Aggies dumped the Crimson Tide 67-61 at home.

Yet while Alabama (deservedly) got the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, A&M effectively was given the 26th overall seed (No. 7 in the Midwest).

While that makes little sense, it’s still a far better hand than the Nittany Lions were dealt. Barely a half-hour after taking Purdue to the wire in the Big Ten Tournament championship game, Penn State was the 42nd team off the board on Selection Sunday.

Clearly, when it came to the Nittany Lions, the selection committee favored the “full body of work” angle over the “recent performance” angle. Because leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, Penn State was 14-10 and looking NIT-bound (if that) while mired in a 3-8 funk.

» READ MORE: March Madness 2023 predictions: Nevada vs. Arizona State finish out First Four in Dayton

Then on Valentine’s Day, the Nittany Lions ended a four-game slide with a 93-81 upset victory at home over Illinois. That win jump-started an ongoing 8-2 run that included five more upsets.

Three of those upsets were consecutive Big Ten Tournament wins in as many days over Illinois (79-76), Northwestern (67-65 in overtime) and Indiana (77-73).

Penn State just missed yet another upset in the tourney finale when their late-game rally from a 17-point deficit came up just short in a 67-65 loss to Purdue.

The Nittany Lions did manage to cover as a 7.5-point underdog against the Boilermakers. That capped a perfect 4-0 ATS tournament and pushed them to 8-3 ATS in their last 11 games.

The common thread binding those 11 contests? Penn State went 8-for-8 ATS as an underdog and 0-for-3 as a favorite. Yep, the pup is on an 11-0 ATS run in Nittany Lions games.

But that’s not the only reason we’re taking the points here. We honestly believe Penn State has a great shot to win its first NCAA Tournament game since 2001.

That opinion is based on three primary factors:

  1. The Nittany Lions are one of the best shooting teams in the country, both overall (46.4%) and from 3-point land (39.3%). By comparison, Texas A&M shoots 43.5% overall and 32.8% from distance.

  2. Penn State’s four best and most important players are experienced seniors — guards Camren Wynter, Andrew Funk and Jalen Pickett, plus forward Seth Lundy. Everyone but Wynter averaged at least 12 points per game in the regular season; everyone but Funk shot at least 45.4% from the field; and all four made at least 39.3% of their 3-point attempts and 77% of their free throws.

  3. Finally, as you know, the key ingredient in the NCAA Tournament’s survive-and-advance recipe is the ability to remain poised and productive in close games. Well, the Nittany Lions have that trait in spades. Their last nine games were decided by a total of 22 points (all by four points or fewer) and they won seven of them.

Is Texas A&M good? Very much so, particularly defensively.

Do the Aggies have an explosive star? Sure do — sophomore guard Wade Taylor IV, who nets a team-high 18.7 points per game.

Are they good at covering point spreads? Oh, yeah — their 23-10 ATS mark is the best in the country, and they’ve cashed in nine of their last 11.

Still, we fully expect this game to come down to the final couple of possessions.

Given Penn State’s knack for navigating close games, along with its 3-point shooting ability and free-throw proficiency, we’re taking the points BetMGM is offering.

For the record, though, we expect an outright win.

» READ MORE: Even with Sasser injury, count on Houston to reach the Final Four out of the Midwest region

No. 10 Penn State vs. No. 7 Texas A&M Odds (via BetMGM):

  1. Point spread: Penn State (+3.5, -115) vs. Texas A&M (-3.5, -105)

  2. Moneyline: Penn State (+135) vs. Texas A&M (-165)

  3. Total: 134.5 points

The Inquirer is not an online gambling operator, or a gambling site. We provide this information about sports betting for entertainment purposes only.