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The Daily Aggie :: 03/12/12 | bleedCrimson.net :: Your Source for NMSU Aggies Sports News

The Daily Aggie :: 03/12/12

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We now know the Aggies' second round opponent in the NCAA Tournament and where they're getting sent. The Aggies are headed out west to Portland and they will take on the 4-seed Indiana Hoosiers. Now that the euphoria of actually getting into the tournament has worn off it's time to take an actual educated look at the Aggies' chances of doing some damage in the tournament.

First things first. The Aggies and Hoosiers match up really well against each other. It should be a highly entertaining game. It pits strength against strength, they are both two outstanding rebounding teams and also offense strength against defense strength. The Hoosiers are the second best three point shooting team in the country. That will pose a huge challenge for the Aggies who are the best three point shooting defensive team in the WAC (and top 100 in the country). Coach Menzies noted that it's a little different guarding three point shooters that have size. "It's different to guard guys that can shoot threes that have size and their guys have more size to them. We've got some length but we also have to be able to do a good job of being there on the catch and challenging all the shots."

The Hoosiers also have the best skilled big man the Aggies will have faced all year in Cody Zeller. The outstanding freshman averages 15.5 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game. He has fouled out of just one game this season and this will be a huge matchup for the Aggies as they could potentially get Zeller in foul trouble (and body him up the entire time and generally make life difficult for Zeller) with Hamidu Rahman, Tshilidzi Nephawe and Renaldo Dixon.

Jordan Hulls will be the sharpshooter the Aggies must shut down. He's a 49.1 percent three point shooter and has hit 65-of-132 shots from deep this year. The Aggies have done a good job in conference play (for the most part) of shutting down teams from deep and that, above everything, will be the biggest key for the Aggies winning this game.

One injury note on Indiana's side, they lost 6'5" guard Verdell Jones III to an ACL injury in the Big Ten tournament. He averaged 24.5 minutes per game, 3.2 assists per game (tied for first on the team) and 7.5 points per game and Coach Crean told the reporters at yesterday's press conference that the Hoosiers would not be where they are this season without Jones' play. Crean told the Indianapolis Star reporter Terry Hutchens after the injury in the Big Ten tournament, "His contribution to our program over the course of his career, and especially this season, is immeasurable. He was playing his best basketball and really had embraced his role on this team as a player and as a leader."

[From the Indianapolis Star]
Jones finished his career as the 23rd leading scorer in school history with 1,347 points. He played in 117 games and started 103. His most memorable highlight will be the pass he made to Christian Watford that led to the game-winning 3-pointer against Kentucky on Dec. 10.

The one big-time x-factor for the Aggies that isn't on the stat sheet anywhere but could really give the Aggies the edge is NCAA Tournament experience. Hernst, Wendell and Hamidu all have NCAA tournament experience and have played on the big stage. None of the Indiana players have ever made the NCAA Tournament. Yes, the Hoosiers play in the Big Ten and yes they've played (and beat) Kentucky this year but there is absolutely nothing like the nerves the players will feel when stepping on the court in an NCAA tourney game for the first time. That could allow the Aggies to jump out to a quick start much like they did in the final two games of the WAC tournament and it's something to keep an eye on.

Today's Links...

Aggie Men's Basketball
Jim Beseda of The Oregonian takes a quick look at the Aggies.

Justin Albers of Inside The Hall takes a look at the Aggies.

Inside The Hall has video reaction from the players.

Inside The Hall also has video from Tom Crean's press conference yesterday.

Terry Hutchens of The Indy Star takes a preliminary look at the matchup.

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