Show Me My Opponent, 2020-21: Texas A&M

Lineup notes

Texas A&M:

  • They’ve run out seven different starting lineups in nine games, so your guess really is as good as mine. The most recent one was Gordon, Jackson, Robinson, Miller, Marfo.
  • Buzz has regularly played a 10-man rotation over the last few games and, if necessary, can expand it to 12. That’s a lot of dudes.
  • Their best lineup, statistically, is Gordon, Jackson, Robinson, Miller, Aku…which has played all of 18 possessions together. Sometimes I wish I understood what coaches were thinking.

Tennessee:

  • Well…we saw our first lineup change, but based on some local reporting, I actually think this may be the new starting lineup: James, Johnson, Springer, Pons, Fulkerson.
  • Which makes sense somewhat if you’re basing this on “what’s the best defensive pairing?” The above lineup is +14 in just 15 minutes together, and they’ve forced a turnover on 10 of their 26 possessions together.
  • This doesn’t necessarily mean that Vescovi and Bailey are bad defenders; they’re solid-to-good defenders on a roster that happens to have a pair of better ones.

Key matchup

Emanuel Miller vs. Yves Pons/John Fulkerson. For all intents and purposes, this is the only matchup that matters. Miller is the only player on the A&M roster that can A.) regularly draw fouls; B.) hit all his required shots; C.) rebound; D.) play solid enough defense. Everyone else on this roster falls well short of Miller’s example. In the two games he’s been truly slowed down – AKA, his usage rate was below 20% – A&M lost by 18 and 23 points. Just keep the ball out of his hands and force everyone else to beat you.

Three predictions

  1. Texas A&M turns the ball over at least 17 times;
  2. This will feature the lowest amount of possessions of any Tennessee SEC game so far;
  3. Tennessee, 70-57. This looks conservative but I’ve overshot Tennessee’s odds the last two games, so I’m dialing it back a tad.

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