Arizona State vs Colorado Preview and Prediction: Pac-12 1st Round
Arizona State vs Colorado Preview
The Pac-12 Conference Tournament tips-off today and the first matchup on the slate is a good one. Arizona State (20-10, 8-10) was ranked within the Top 5 earlier this season, but a rough stretch of conference games have them clinging on the bubble.
Colorado (16-14, 8-10) has some impressive wins on their resume including beating this Arizona State squad, their fellow in-state rivals Arizona and UCLA twice. The Buffs will need to win this conference tournament to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament–unlikely, but possible.
If history is any guide, the Colorado Buffaloes should feel good about their chances against Arizona State. Colorado coach Tad Boyle is 7-0 in conference tourney openers with the Buffs, including a 6-0 mark in the Pac-12. That makes Colorado one of just two teams — Arizona is the other — that has won at least one game in every conference tournament since the Pac-12 expanded to 12 teams in the 2011-12 season.
As mentioned earlier, Colorado split its season series with the Sun Devils, collecting an overtime win in Boulder when ASU was ranked No. 4 in the nation, then dropping a game in Tempe when the Sun Devils were ranked No. 21.
Now, with both teams finishing the season with 8-10 conference marks, neither is ranked — and both will be playing Wednesday to extend their seasons.
“It’s a one-game season,” Boyle said. “Unless we win a game or a couple of games our season may be over. That’s the reality. We don’t know that, but that’s the way it feels right now. We’d better have a sense of urgency, there’s no doubt.”
The Sun Devils, who racked up a 12-0 non-conference record that included wins over Kansas and Xavier, will also have that sense of urgency. Once ranked as high as No. 3 in the nation, Bobby Hurley’s team endured an up-and-down Pac-12 stretch that finished on a sour note, with ASU losing four of its last five conference games.
But, Boyle warned, the Sun Devils are still a team capable of a tournament run, especially if they get hot from behind the 3-point line.
“I see a team that’s really dangerous and a team that’s explosive offensively,” Boyle said. “They have four guards that can really shoot the ball, drive the ball, push the ball, play in transition, very active. … A team that’s never out of a game. They can be down 20 and they’re not out of it because they’re so explosive offensively. We’re going to have to play for 40 minutes, rock solid. We’re going to have to contest shots because if you give these guys open shots, they’re going to make them.”
The most telling statistics when it comes to ASU? Try shooting percentage. When the Sun Devils shoot 46 percent or better from the field, they are 13-0.
Colorado and ASU are tied 6-6 since CU joined the Pac-12 in 2011-12. The Sun Devils have won six of the last 10, but this will be the first meeting between the two programs in the Pac-12 tournament.
LINE: -6 ASU
The Buffs have history beating this Sun Devils squad but they will need to play elite defense, specifically getting in the shooters face to deliver contested jumps shots. If Colorado can hold the Sun Devils around 40% shooting from the field or less, they have a chance to pull the upset.
Arizona State 81 Colorado 78