Texas A&M will host the USA women's basketball team, which is on the third game of a four-game NCAA tour, on Thursday.
The U.S. team enters the matchup having won its first two games against Stanford 95-80 and Oregon State 81-58.
For A&M, coach Gary Blair said has made the purpose of such a challenging matchup clear since the preseason: focusing on providing his squad the best opportunity to manifest into a potential national champion.
"Are we good enough as coaches to teach the game a little bit better?" Blair said. "Where we're not just playing a defending national champion like Notre Dame and hanging in there with them, but finding a way to win those games. And this is why I scheduled like I scheduled, where we play the Duke's. Everybody else ran scared to play the United States Olympic team. Not us. We're ready for it."
The U.S. roster is loaded from top to bottom with WNBA All-Stars and former college basketball stars, including Sue Bird, Diana Taurasi and A'ja Wilson.
This is the second time Taurasi is playing in Aggieland, with the last time coming in 2007. The four-time Olympic gold medalist said she respects the Aggie team.
"We did an exhibition tour here and A&M was one of the stops,” Taurasi said. “It was great to be around Coach Blair and the program. What a powerhouse. You think about certain programs in the last 10 years that have taken off — obviously winning a championship in 2011. It takes a lot of commitment, a lot of work, and that's what this team is about."
Going into Thursday's game, Team USA understand the threat Texas A&M possesses on offense — led by the preseason SEC player of the year Chennedy Carter.
"Obviously Chennedy Carter is a big one," Bird said. "When you get to the next level in the WNBA the scouting report is a big part of what we do. It's something we're used to. We go over other teams' plays, we kind of see what their tendencies are, who they like to highlight on their offense. And Chennedy Carter seems to be one of the main highlights [for Texas A&M].”