Obviously the Wildcats are the better team, but do they deserve to be favored by such a high number against the Sun Devils? Our college basketball odds preview is inside.
The Wildcats have been off for quite a while. In fact, they haven't played since their December 23rd loss (their first defeat of the season) against UNLV. You better believe they're ready to get back on the court, and oddsmakers are thinking they'll dominate here, listing the home team as a 14-point favorite.
An O/U of 137.5 is on the NCAA basketball betting odds board for now. Both teams are averaging close to 75 points per game, with Arizona at 76.3 and Arizona State at 73.5.
We figured the undefeated run wasn't going to last much longer, but we didn't see Arizona dropping its first game against a hit-or-miss UNLV squad. But alas, that's why they play the game, and now the Wildcats will try to put that loss behind them and move on - especially since they'll now come up against in-state rival Arizona State.
It's been almost two weeks since that defeat to the Runnin' Rebels, so Arizona has had ample time to rest up, recuperate and prepare to bounce back at home. The Wildcats have still yet to lose this season, having gone a stellar 8-0 with wins over Gonzaga (in overtime) and Michigan among others.
Who are the players to watch for Arizona this evening? Freshman Stanley Johnson has boatloads of talent and is leading the team in scoring (14.5 PPG and 6.8 RPG), but Brandon Ashley and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson have been key contributors too. Guards Gabe York and T.J. McConnell have provided a nice, steady hand, while Kaleb Tarczewski's presence inside has been a factor as well. In short, this team has a wonderful amount of balance to it, with numerous guys who can step up on any given night.
Arizona State Sun Devils
We've already seen so many ups and downs for the Sun Devils this season. They've gone 8-5, with notable wins over UNLV and Harvard and losses to Maryland, Alabama, Texas A&M, Marquette and Lehigh (in triple overtime). More recently though, Arizona State has won two straight, thumping Detroit 93-54 before grabbing that hard-fought 56-46 victory over the Crimson.
It was a defensive struggle against Harvard, and one that the Sun Devils ultimately won. They got double-digit scoring out of four different players and then held the Crimson to a paltry 36.4 percent shooting from the field overall. With four different guys who pulled down at least six boards each, Arizona State's advantage on the glass (40-23 in total rebounds) was a clear-cut factor in the victory.
The Sun Devils have recently been boosted by the return of Savon Goodman, who's averaged 15.8 PPG and 8.0 RPG in four games. Gerry Blakes, Shaquielle McKissic and Eric Jacobsen are each averaging in double figures too. This team shouldn't be taken lightly, as they do have playmakers who can create their own shots. Arizona will have to be locked in here.
NCAA Basketball Pick
This will be the first time we're fading Arizona, but we just see Arizona State keeping this game reasonably close, at least close enough to cover the 14 points. That's a heck of a lot of chalk.
Looking over the Sun Devils' performances this season, we see that they've been competitive in each and every game they've played. Though they've lost five games already, their biggest margin of defeat was just seven points, so that's encouraging to see from those wanting to back Arizona State. They're not going to go down without a fight.
So while it won't be easy by any means, we do expect Goodman and company to make things interesting tonight, leading to make the underdogs our NCAA Basketball pick.
Free College Basketball Pick: Arizona State Sun Devils +14 at 5Dimes