With the Sweet 16 fast approaching the need for more information on the Michigan Wolverines’ opponent — the Texas A&M Aggies — arose. That’s why I sat down with Good Bull Hunting’s David Dold and asked the hard-hitting questions.
Without further ado, let’s get started.
Josh LaFond: Thank you for taking the time out of your schedule and joining us here, David.
Let’s not waste any time and just jump right into it with my first question: What’re the Aggies’ biggest strengths?
David Dold: It all starts with the two big guys down low. Tyler Davis (First-Team All-SEC) and Robert Williams (Two-Time SEC DPOY) are the engine that keeps this team going, and having the ability to play both on the floor at the same time is the basis for the entire A&M offense.
Josh: What’re the Aggies biggest weaknesses?
David: Twofold — turnovers and outside shooting. The outside shooting has been streaky, but it has shown up at times. The turnovers, however... they have been a pretty consistent problem.
And it’s a problem exacerbated by the loss of our graduate transfer PG Duane Wilson — he was the calming presence that took care of the basketball down the stretch. His departure has allowed SEC All-Freshman Team PG TJ Starks to thrive, but Starks is a shoot-first PG. He’ll submit his fair share of turnovers, as well... and they can sometimes surface at the worst possible time.
Josh: Texas A&M is coming off of a HUGE blowout win over the North Carolina Tar Heels that has surely changed the expectations of this Aggie team.
So, on a scale of 1-10, how high is the confidence level in College Station about their chances to beat Michigan and maybe more?
David: Right now, the feeling in College Station is “if we play to THAT level [in the previous game against North Carolina], we cannot be defeated.” I don’t anticipate another UNC-level performance, so I’ll settle in at a healthy 6.
Josh: To beat Michigan what does Texas A& M have to do?
David: They can’t let Michigan shoot them out of their two-forward lineup. If you can repeatedly expose Davis (or Williams to a lesser extent) away from the basket, it’s going to force A&M to make some awkward lineup choices that don’t mesh well with our offensive style.
Josh: Who’s THE guy Michigan needs to stop in order to win?
David: The entire A&M offense is built on one single and undeniable truth — if you single cover Tyler Davis, he’s going to score (or get fouled). He’s got a career field goal percentage north of 60 percent, and there aren’t many putbacks and dunks in that 60 percent. His lack of athleticism keeps him from developing a true NBA profile, but he is absolutely as good of an offensive post player as you’ll find in college basketball.
Josh: Who do you think wins the game?
David: The Aggies have never, ever made the Elite Eight... so I can’t jinx it by picking it to happen. We’re looking at a tight game, in my opinion, but ultimately I see Michigan’s offensive versatility winning out after an A&M regression post-UNC. I hope I’m wrong, but I fear I’m right.
Score Prediction: Michigan 68, Texas A&M 65
Josh: As of today, who’s in your Final 4?
David: Villanova and Duke are still alive from my original bracket, so I have to choose them on principle, and I’ll take the Zags to edge you guys in the Elite Eight out West. In the South... give me Loyola.
I had an all-session pass in Dallas, and I really enjoyed my chance to watch those guys play twice in one weekend. They’ve got the makeup to finish the job and head to San Antonio.
So as of today, pre-Sweet 16, my Final Four is Villanova, Duke, Gonzaga, and Loyola.
Josh: Last question, David: Who do you think wins the national championship?
David: My confidence has never wavered, here — I’ll take Nova. They’re too much on offense.
I would like to take the time to thank David Dold as well as the rest of the staff over at GoodBullHunting.com. The team over there provides excellent inside, great articles and even better analysis of the entire Texas A&M Aggie athletic spectrum.
So, with the heavyweight matchup set here in the Sweet 16 featuring the Aggies and Wolverines, head on over there and check out their takes on the outcome of this highly anticipated game.