Syracuse vs Arizona State Preview

Syracuse vs Arizona State

It’s not often we get an NCAA Tournament game between two teams that are hearing “they don’t belong”. Either way, the selection committee has ruled and the Arizona State Sun Devils (20-11) will play the Syracuse Orange (20-13) in the First Four on Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio.

The Sun Devils come into this game reeling, losing five of their last six games–showing they are a shell of themselves from earlier in the season where they were ranked in the Top 5.

ASU is averaging 83.5 points on 46.4 percent shooting and allowing 75.3 points on 43.9 percent shooting. Tra Holder is averaging 18.4 points and 3.4 assists while Shannon Evans II is averaging 16.6 points and 3.2 rebounds. These two guards will need to shoot a great percentage from the floor in order to knock off Syracuse and their trademark 2-3 zone.

Evans is particular is an X-factor in this game. Of Shannon Evans 399 shot attempts this season, 244 of them were from beyond the arc–if he can get a couple of open looks, he can become lethal from deep. The Orange’s 2-3 zone has shown susceptibility to the three-pointer this season.

Just like the Sun Devils, Syracuse comes into this game losers of five of their last eight games. Unlike ASU however, the Orange are dependent on their defense to win them basketball games. The Orange are averaging 67.5 points on 41.8 percent shooting and allowing 64.5 points on 39.6 percent shooting. Tyus Battle is averaging 19.8 points and 3.1 rebounds while Frank Howard is averaging 15 points and five assists.

This scenario has played out before for the Orange. In 2016, Syracuse slipped into the tournament bracket as a 10-seed and wound up winning its way to the Final Four in Houston.

Frank Howard, SU’s junior point guard, was a freshman on the 2016 Final Four team. He played a reserve role on that team, but this year, Howard has started every game and he’s been a constant presence on the floor. The rest of SU’s starting lineup will experience the NCAA Tournament for the first time. The Orange’s starters include sophomore Tyus Battle, junior Paschal Chukwu, and freshmen Oshae Brissett and Marek Dolezaj. Chukwu was a freshman at Providence in 2015, but he did not play in the Friars’ first-round loss in that year’s tournament.

Common Opponents

This doesn’t mean much, especially if the opponents were played months apart, but the Sun Devils and Orange shared one common opponent this season: Kansas.

Arizona State beat Kansas at Allen Field House 95-85.

Syracuse lost 76-60 to Kansas on Dec. 2 in Miami.

All-time Series

These teams have only met once before. That game also came in the NCAA Tournament.

On March 22, 2009, Syracuse bottled up a young Arizona State guard named James Harden as the Orange won 78-67 in Miami to advance to the Sweet 16. Eric Devendorf scored 21 points and Andy Rautins added 17.

Prediction

LINE: -1.5 ASU

If Arizona State can get it going from long-range I can see this game being a blowout in favor of the Sun Devils, but in the slump they are in, I’m not expecting ASU to go off for 100+ points like they are capable of.

Syracuse features a prominent defense, keeping offenses under 70 points per game. If they can keep this game in the 60’s, advantage leans heavily Syracuse.

I’ll take the more explosive offense to hit shots late.

Arizona State 75 Syracuse 68

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