Texas A&M basketball needs to weather Nebraska's red-hot shooting to advance

Previewing Texas A&M basketball's first-round matchup against the Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Nebraska’s Keisei Tominaga (30) shoots a backwards one-handed half-court shot during open practices
Nebraska’s Keisei Tominaga (30) shoots a backwards one-handed half-court shot during open practices / Chris Day/The Commercial Appeal / USA

Texas A&M basketball needs to tamp down fiery Huskers to get to second round

Texas A&M basketball tips off against the Nebraska Cornhuskers tonight at 5:50 CT in their first round game in the NCAA tournament. This is an eventuality that many thought would not be in the cards for the Aggies this year—not a game against Nebraska, I mean, but an NCAA tournament berth at all.

I've talked extensively about the roller coaster nature of the Aggies this year. One of the biggest issues they've had as a team is defending the three-point line, with teams routinely ending up with hot shooting nights against them. The Aggies' own ability to shoot the three has been inauspicious as well.

The Cornhuskers, of course, shoot the three-ball prodigiously, especially star senior Keisei Tominaga. Texas A&M basketball will have to keep a man on him at all times, as he is unafraid to pull up from Steph Curry range to try and knock down shots.

Even though the Aggies have struggled to defend the three-point shot generally, they have gone 2-0 against the best three-point shooting team on their schedule: the Kentucky Wildcats. Is this a good sign for their matchup against the Cornhuskers? Potentially.

It has felt, more often than not, that the Aggies' struggles against the three have come against teams that you don't expect to light it up from outside. Against the Wildcats, for example, the closeouts and coverage were really not all that bad in either game. Florida was on a hot streak when they played the Aggies, but the defense held them in check for the first half.

If you can get a guy like Solomon Washington to track Tominaga around the court, I think you can shut him down. Washington is an NBA-caliber defender, who can aggressively handle opposing shooters. An area where Nebraska really struggles is rebounding, so that matches up well with the Aggies' biggest strength.

It's tough to say that this matchup depends on how hot the Huskers get in the game—it sounds like a cop-out—but that really might be the case here. With the way the Aggies have been playing offense recently, however—specifically Obaseki's newly-unlocked ability to slice to the basket and shoot from outside—the Ags may be better-equipped for a shootout than we all think.

I'm keeping my maroon-tinted glasses on here. Give me the Aggies advancing in this one, with Buzz Williams notching his first-ever NCAA tournament victory with A&M. I'll go with a final score prediction of 73-62.