No. 5 Texas A&M is happy with its seeding and happier that it won't open play in its fifth consecutive NCAA tournament until Friday. The Aggies face No. 12 Utah State, no stranger to the Big Dance, in a first-round game in Spokane, Wash., and they believe they will have their floor general, starting point guard Dash Harris, back in uniform.
Harris missed both games in last week's Big 12 tournament with a bone bruise in his wrist that he suffered in the regular-season finale. After A&M's semifinal loss to No. 1 Kansas, Harris said he expected to be ready this week. With a couple of other players dinged that has limited the number of players A&M has had available for practices, the schedule worked out as well as possible.
"Playing on Friday gives us more time to prepare and get some guys healthy," said coach Mark Turgeon, making his third consecutive trip to the tournament as the Aggies' head coach. "We have a lot of confidence and we just want to improve between now and Friday."
A&M (23-9) has won nine of its last 12 games, with its only losses coming to No. 1 Kansas twice and at Baylor, which was awarded a No. 3 seed and will start play Thursday in New Orleans against Sam Houston State. It's possible that A&M and Baylor could meet in Houston in the Elite 8 round.
Right now, no one's thinking that far ahead.
"We are playing a very good team in Utah State and need to bring all we've got and put it on the table. Nothing is ever easy in the NCAA tournament," senior forward Bryan Davis said. 'Every game has the potential to be my last at A&M, but I've played every game for three years like it was my last. We've just got to go out and play as hard as we can. We've accomplished a lot this year, but we're not done yet."