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Arizona State

College Basketball



Arizona had a lot of buzz as one of the best teams in the country when Allonzo Trier came back in late January, but that has worn off in recent weeks. The Wildcats were blown out at Oregon and last weekend fell at home against UCLA. While they still have a decent shot of at least being co-regular season Pac-12 title holders, most believe they’re the third-best team in the conference. For their final Game, they have a short trip to in-state rival Arizona State, which is quietly putting together a better season than projected.

The Sun Devils weren’t expected to be much, but Bobby Hurley has his team playing well and that was seen in the win against USC last Sunday. Playing in Tempe, the Wildcats will be favored, but this isn’t a guaranteed win. These teams played more than a month ago and while it wasn’t close in a 91-75 Arizona win, things could be slightly different on ASU’s home cOurt in its regular season finale.

Of course, Arizona did whatever it wanted in that first Game and didn’t have Trier, so that’s something to worry about for the home team. LAuri Markkanen was simply unguardable for the Sun Devils as he went for 30 points, with Four made threes. Due to injuries, Arizona State’s lineup consists of five guys that all average more than 30 minutes per Game. That wouldn’t be a problem except Obinna Oleka is considered their center at 6-8 and Torian Graham plays a lot of the Four at 6-foot-5. That works against some teams, but Arizona has one of the biggest teams in the nation led by the 7-footer Markkanen, but also Dusan Ristic and Chance Comanche.

The even tougher thing is that Trier might be their best perimeter player and he didn’t even play in that first Game. Trier has scored at least 20 points in the last three Games and has gotten back into form. With Trier firing along with Markkanen, the Sun Devils already have their hands full, but Arizona’s depth is a huge advantage. The Wildcats still have plenty of playmakers from freshmen Rawle Alkins and Kobi Simmons to Kadeem Allen, who had 18 points in the first Game and defensive specialist Parker Jackson-Cartwright.

As said above, this would be a perfect spot for Arizona State to get an upset, but that’s before looking into the actual matchups in this Game. The Sun Devils may put up a fight, but it’s hard to see them giving Arizona a second-straight loss. Arizona has one of the best defenses in the conference, which doesn’t help. The best thing for ASU is that they have experience and guys that can get the ball in the hoop. However, two of them are 6-foot-1 and two others are 6-foot-5 and they aren’t good defensively. While that doesn’t mean everything, it does mean Arizona will easily win on the glass again. The Wildcats won the battle of the boards 38-22 in that first meeting and the same could happen again.

Oleka, Graham and Tra Holder all had 18 points or more in the first Game and it still didn’t matter. Even if Shannon Evans improved on his 1-of-8 shooting for five points and Kodi Justice (eight points) did a little more, the Sun Devils still have to stop Arizona from scoring. In theory, it’d be great for ASU to close the season with a win, but there’s a reason this team was swept by Washington State twice. Arizona’s size will be too much of an issue and the Wildcats will at least get a share of the Pac-12 title.

Our Pick – Arizona -9.5

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