Zucker: Take The Names Off The Jerseys; Texas A&M Is The No. 1 Team In The Country

"They've got dudes," Adam Zucker says

After Hours With Amy Lawrence
March 20, 2018 - 9:25 am

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It was a wild and crazy opening weekend in the NCAA Tournament, but outside of No. 16 UMBC knocking off No. 1 Virginia, there was one result that Adam Zucker simply couldn’t believe.

And it didn't involve No. 3 Michigan State or No. 2 North Carolina.

“Sparty loses in Detroit in a clunker of a game, and North Carolina gets blown out in Charlotte,” the CBS Sports Inside College Basketball host prefaced on After Hours with Amy Lawrence, “but in the end, I would say the thing that surprised me the most was Cincinnati – with the second-best defense in the country – blowing a 22-point lead on a  team that otherwise looked gassed. That, to me, was shocking.”

The Bearcats are known for their rugged defense but allowed 32 points over the final 11 minutes to lose, 75-73, to Nevada.

“We’ve shown a lot of Cincinnati games on CBS Sports Network, and the joke is, ‘Once they’re up 10, kind of like with Virginia, it’s over,’” Zucker said. “So even though those bigger-name programs went down in locations that they easily should have won, Cincinnati blowing that lead, for me, had to be it.”

And then there were 16. Yes, there are plenty of surprises – No. 7 Nevada (29-7) will face No. 11 Loyola (30-5) on Thursday, for example – but don’t be surprised if the blue-bloods rise to the top this weekend. 

“Villanova and Duke have both impressed me kind of the way you’d expect them to,” Zucker said. “Michigan had impressed me a lot coming in (but) has not (impressed me in the tournament), I would say. Texas A&M is among the more surprising teams (and) would be the one that’s impressed me more than I expected.”

A&M went on a 29-8 run against North Carolina and never looked back. The Aggies (22-12) won 86-65, with four starters – T.J. Starks (21 points), Tyler Davis (18), D.J. Hogg (14), and Admon Gilder (12) – scoring double figures.

“They’ve got dudes,” Zucker said. “They were also one of those top-five teams earlier this year, back in November and December. They were landing all these wins, but they also had some suspensions and injuries and so they fell off for a while and never really gained traction until late in the conference season. Now we’re really seeing what they can do. You take the names off the jerseys, and I would tell you that’s the No. 1 team in the country right now.”

A&M plays No. 3 Michigan (30-7) on Thursday at 7:37 p.m. ET.