Penn State Battles Texas A&M in First Round of NCAA Tournament
No. 10-seed Penn State gears up for their first NCAA Tournament game since 2011 as they take on No. 7-seed Texas A&M in the first round of March Madness.
The Nittany Lions finished the regular season with a record of 22-13 while going 10-10 in Big Ten play.
They made a deep run in the conference tournament, making it to the championship game against Purdue. The blue and white finished 8-2 in their last 10 games.
“I knew we had the talent to do it really early,” head coach Micah Shrewsberry said. “It took a little while to find our stride, but this is when we wanted to play at our best.”
Penn State came on late, but the Aggies found their stride once the new year hit. They began 2023 with a five-game win streak and never looked back.
Texas A&M finished with a record of 25-9 while going 15-3 in SEC play. They lost just four times after New Year’s Day and made it to the conference championship where they lost to Alabama.
The Aggies return to the big dance for the first time since 2018 and are ranked No. 17 in the latest AP Poll.
Wade Taylor IV leads an Aggies team that has never lost to Penn State in its program history. Taylor IV is averaging 16.5 points and 4.0 assists per game and has been on a hot streak.
Texas A&M is a dangerous team to face in the first round of the tournament as they have beaten the No. 1 overall seed Alabama in regular season play.
The Aggies are an efficient team that shoots free throws well which bodes well for late-game scenarios in the NCAA Tournament.
Penn State, on the other hand, experienced four games that came down to the wire in the Big Ten Tournament and they are one of the oldest teams in the country.
This experience will allow the Nittany Lions to remain calm and collected when they face adversity.
The blue and white have little experience in the tournament as just transfers Cam Wynter and Mikey Henn have experience playing in March Madness.
Many of Penn State’s seniors, including Seth Lundy and Myles Dread, have not had the experience of playing in an NCAA Tournament but stayed with the Nittany Lions to finally get that moment.
“That’s what I came back for,” Dread said. “It just means the world that we get to see [our work] pay dividends.”
Lundy has become an important player on both sides of the ball for Penn State and he decided to stay after initially entering the transfer portal.
Now, Lundy gets the opportunity to compete for a national championship, but he is making sure to take in all the vibes surrounding this event.
“We’re going to come out here with the mentality that it’s one possession and one game at a time,” Lundy said.
Coach Shrewsberry has expressed his confidence in his squad and believes that they can make a deep run into the tournament.
Three-point shooting will be key for the Nittany Lions as many guards and shooters shine bright on the big stage of the NCAA Tournament.
Andrew Funk has been an X-factor all season for the blue and white and understands that his legacy can be made during March Madness.
“I’m going to have a lot of confidence going in,” Funk said. “I want to be a part of something special.”
Penn State will look to become the Cinderella team of the tournament and many people are considering the blue and white to be a dark horse in this year’s tournament.
Coach Shrewsberry and his group will look to come together and grind out another deep run that will push them to a national championship.
“We’re growing together as a group,” Shrewsberry said. “You have a feeling when you’re sitting on something special.”
Thomas English is a second-year broadcast journalism major. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Second-year / Broadcast Journalism
Thomas is a broadcast journalist from Shorewood, Illinois which is an hour South of Chicago. He is a second-year student at Penn State majoring in Broadcast Journalism with a minor in Spanish. His goal is to be an ESPN broadcaster who covers a variety of sports including professional and college level football and basketball and bring entertainment to people all over the world. His other goal is to spread his love of sports to all cultures through projects that allow children of all ethnicities to learn and play all kinds of sports. He is currently an active member of CommRadio, a student run radio station at Penn State. He plans to create his own sports podcast as well as doing play by play and analysis for Penn State sporting events in the future. In the future, he hopes to use his skills to entertain people all over the world!