What to Watch Out for When Syracuse Takes on Arizona State
By Nick Dugan
What: NCAA Tournament First Four
Where: Dayton, Ohio
When: Wednesday, March 14 @ 9:10 p.m.
Who: Syracuse (20-13, 8-10 ACC) vs. Arizona State (20-11, 8-10 Pac 12)
On Sunday, the Orange snagged the final spot in the NCAA Tournament field, sending them to the First Four in Dayton, Ohio. Syracuse (20-13, 8-10 Atlantic Coast Conference) will square off against Arizona State (20-11, 8-10 Pac 12) for an 11 seed in the Midwest quarter of the bracket. The game will be the final First Four contest and will tip-off Wednesday, March 14 at approximately 9:10 p.m. Here are three key matchups to look out for ahead of tomorrow night’s tip-off
Perhaps the most exciting matchup to watch tomorrow night will be Frank Howard and Tyus Battle going up against Tra Holder and Shannon Evans II. Holder was a Pac-12 First-Team selection, who averaged 18.4 points per game. Evans earned Honorable Mention in conference for his 16.6 points per game average. The two knock down shots, combining to shoot nearly 40 percent from the floor. However, with each of them standing at 6’1” and playing against an unfamiliar zone defense, look out for the much taller and longer Howard and Battle to cause some problems for the Sun Devils.
On the offensive end for the Orange, ASU has allowed over 75 points per game, which ranks 254th in Division I. Syracuse’s guards are sure to get some good looks at the basket, which they will need to convert, in order to advance.
Syracuse ranks 82nd in rebounds per game this season, while Arizona State checks in at 181st in the country. But, don’t let the numbers fool you. The Orange averages just two more boards than the Sun Devils. However, ASU has been trending in the wrong direction. In their final six games, including the Pac-12 Tournament, the team was out-rebounded by an average of 10 boards per game. Romello White leads the Sun Devils grabbing just over seven rebounds per contest. In their last six games, ‘Cuse has been out-rebounded by a total of one rebound.
Arizona State shot 36.4 percent from three on the year, which lands them just outside the top 100 in the country. But, in their biggest wins of the year over Xavier and Kansas, the Sun Devils shot 13-of-27 and 14-of-28 respectively. The Orange has had a few teams shoot well from beyond the arc against them including Wake Forest (43.5 percent), North Carolina State (43.5 percent), and Boston College (51.9 percent), all in the past month. If ASU gets hot from downtown, they have proven they can take down some of the best teams in the nation.
The Sun Devils have nine players on their roster that average at least 10 minutes of floor time per game. Four of those guys average double figures on the year, all of which bodes well for the grueling schedule of the NCAA Tournament. Arizona State also boasts the Pac-12 Co-Sixth Man of the Year in Remy Martin. The freshman contributed nearly 10 points per contest in 2017-18. Syracuse, dealing with injuries and departures this year, runs seven guys in the rotation, and that’s being generous. The big three of Howard, Battle and Oshae Brissett have scored 73 percent of the team’s points. Dolezaj and Chukwu helped ‘Cuse earn its first ever ACC Tournament victory against Wake Forest, but after 38 and 35-minute nights respectively, their production dipped the following day against North Carolina. Chukwu fouled out after playing just 15 minutes, while Dolezaj added just six points in 37 minutes of work. Everyone’s legs should be rested for Wednesday night, but if Syracuse is to advance, how long can those legs stay fresh enough for what could be a long first weekend?
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