The Pac-12 may be in a down year, but Washington doesn’t care, as it’s already Four Games ahead in the standings. That includes Arizona State, who was either looking ahead to this Game, or just isn’t very good when it lost by 21 points at home to Washington State on Thursday (as a -15 point favorite). The Sun Devils are better than that performance, but they already lost at home to Princeton and Utah earlier in the season.
This spread isn’t big but Arizona State would have to put in one of its better performances of the season to grab an upset. Washington has been one of the best teams in the Conference on both ends of the floor and that’s why it still hasn’t lost. Its defense ranks first in numerous categories from efficiency to turnovers forced and its offense has the best three-point percentage and is the second most efficient. The biggest advantage ASU has in this Game is probably on the offensive glass, one of the few areas that UW struggles in due to playing zone.
Zylan Cheatham (11.6 ppg, 11.1 rpg) and Romello White (8.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg) are the main guys that can capitalize on rebounding, but that can only go so far. In addition to Arizona State not having anyone that shoots it better than 39 percent from deep, Washington allows just 28.5% in Conference play. That’ll leave for offensive rebounds, but if you aren’t making threes, that’s a problem against the zone. It’ll be up to Remy Martin (13.1 ppg, 5.1 apg) and LUguentz Dort (16.2 ppg) to do most of the work, but neither is efficient from the floor. Rob Edwards (10.3 ppg) and Kimani LAwrence (10.2) both average double figures, but neither is consistent and could have problems against this defense.
The best way for ASU to have a chance is if its defense steps up. Arizona tried its best on Thursday, but ultimately didn’t have enough as Washington had five guys Scorein double figures. That offensive versatility combined with a dominant defense is why the Huskies are running through the conference. Noah Dickerson (12.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg) was dealing with a bad ankle, but he made it 26 minutes last Game. He’s the type of player that could beat up ASU down low if he can get going. Otherwise, Jaylen Nowell (16.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.4 apg) has been one of the best players in the Conference and is shooting 44.4% from deep. Matisse Thybulle (3.3 spg, 2.2 bpg) is mostly there for defense, while David Crisp serves as a solid two-guard, and Nahziah Carter and Dominic Green both supply depth at forward.
Skill-wise, there’s no reason why the Sun Devils can’t compete or win this Game. But even if they were looking ahead on Thursday, there’s no excuse for that performance. Their problem will be scoring against this zone and if they struggle to surpass 60 points like Arizona did on Thursday, it’ll be difficult to win. The Huskies just need to keep doing what they’ve been doing and if Dickerson returns to full health, that’d be a big bonus against the likes of White and Cheatham down low.
Our Pick – Washington -1.5