Some say it is the most wonderful day of the year. And for Penn State, this one was a long time coming. Penn State plays Texas A&M in its first game back in the NCAA Men’sBasketball Tournament since 2011, and they will be doing so as an underdog. Texas A&M, fresh off an appearance in the SEC championship game, where it was handled by Alabama, comes into the first-round matchup in Des Moines, Iowa at the Wells Fargo Arena with more national respect from the poll voters and, apparently, the experts in the desert.
Penn State is 20-13-2 this year against the spread, covering the spread 60.6% of the time regardless of being the favorite or the underdog. Penn State has covered the spread eight of its last 11 games, and has covered the spread in its last eight games as an underdog.
Texas A&M is one of the best teams in the nation against the spread. The Aggies are 23-11 against the spread this season, with a cover rate of 67.7% (good for fourth-best in the nation). The Aggies have won nine straight games as the favorite, covering each time.
Here is a look at the latest odds for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament first-round game from BetMGM.
The role of the underdog is nothing new for Penn State. The Nittany Lions were an underdog in each of their Big Ten basketball tournament games last week in Chicago, and the same will hold true for its first game in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Nittany Lions have a not-so-encouraging chance to score a victory over the Aggies.
The ESPN BPI gives Penn State just a 36.0% chance to get a win on Thursday night, which gives Texas A&M a solid 64.0% chance of winning. But, as alluded to, Penn State was the projected loser in each game it played in the Big Ten championship game. This feels like a disrespectful outlook given the recent play of the Nittany Lions.
Penn State continues to be without forward Caleb Dorsey due to an undisclosed injury that has been lingering throughout the season. There is no timetable for his return to the lineup, so Penn State will look to move on without him as long as necessary.
Texas A&M’s only player appearing on the injury report continues to be forward Ethan Henderson. According to the injury report, Henderson has been away from the team for an unknown personal reason since November. There are no other injuries or player status updates of note.
Updated college basketball injury updates can be found on the USA TODAY Sports injury report.
- Jalen Pickett, Penn State: 17.9 ppg
- Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M: 16.5 ppg
- Jalen Pickett, Penn State: 7.3 rpg
- Henry Coleman III, Texas A&M: 5.7 rpg
- Jalen Pickett, Penn State: 6.7 apg
- Wade Taylor IV, Texas A&M: 4.0 apg
- 100 or fewer: +3300
- 101-110: +1200
- 111-120: +500
- 121-130: +290
- 131-140: +260
- 141-150: +350
Gannett may earn revenue from sports betting operators for audience referrals to betting services. Sports betting operators have no influence over nor are any such revenues in any way dependent on or linked to the newsrooms or news coverage. See applicable operator site for its terms and conditions. If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, help is available. Call the National Council on Problem Gambling 24/7 at 1-800-GAMBLER. Must be 21 or older to gamble.