Arizona State (20-11) vs Syracuse (20-13)
When: Wednesday, March 14th 2018
Where: University of Dayton Arena, Dayton, OH
Time: 9:10 ET | TV: truTV
Opening Odds: Syracuse -1/143
Two teams that got off to hot non-conference starts this season, but stumbled a bit once they got to league play, square off in a First Four game on Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio. The Arizona State Sun Devils take on the Syracuse Orange as a pair of No. 11 seeds with the winner meeting TCU in Detroit on Friday. Arizona State, which got off to a school-record 12-0 start, was last team in the country to suffer its first loss and defeated two eventual No. 1 seeds in the Big Dance – Kansas and Xavier – as well as NCAA Tournament teams San Diego State and Kansas State. The Sun Devils dropped their first game at Arizona on December 30th and never won more than three in a row before finishing with an 8-10 conference record and losses in five of their last six. The Orange, who were tabbed by NCAA Tournament committee chair Bruce Rasmussen as the last at-large team into the field, endured a similar path with an 11-2 non-conference mark, but fell to 8-10 in the ACC. Despite finishing in a tie for 10th in its conference, Syracuse proved itself in the eyes of the committee with a top-20 strength of schedule (14th entering Sunday) and four wins against top-50 RPI teams.
The Orange don’t have a lot of depth, or maybe they’re afraid to use it, as Tyus Battle (19.8 points), Frank Howard (15.0) and Oshae Brissett (14.7), who rank first, second and sixth in the country in minutes per game, account for 73.3% of the team’s scoring. Battle has reached double figures in all but one game this season but his shooting percentages need to be improved (less than 40% in seven of the last eight games), and is just 14-for-50 over the last three games. Howard is also slumping, failing to shoot over 30 percent from the field in four of his last five games including just 10-for-38 from 3-point territory.
The offense led the Sun Devils to their hot start, scoring 91.8 points on 50.8% shooting from the field and 42.4% beyond the arc during their season-opening winning streak before cooling off to 78.3, 43.7 and 32.9, respectively, over the last 19 games. Leading scorer Tra Holder was a big part of that falloff, averaging 18.4 points on the season, but 21.4 during the 12-0 start, including a career-high 40 points against Xavier and 29 against Kansas. In seven games against NCAA Tournament teams, Holder averaged 25.3 points. Guards Shannon Evans II (16.6) drained a Pac-12-high 91 3-pointers, while Kodi Justice (12.6) went over 1,000 career points last weekend and has multiple three-pointers made in six of his last seven games.
A lot of the ‘experts’ I’m seeing and hearing on TV think Syracuse is a dangerous team to look out for in this tournament. I just don’t see it. I don’t think they finished strong enough to warrant that kind of praise. I expect Arizona State to show some of that spark that led them to their hot start and beat the Orange down the stretch.
Pick: Arizona State -1.5
- Orange are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 NCAA Tournament games.
- Orange are 2-6 ATS in their last 8 neutral site games.
- Orange are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 Wednesday games.
- Sun Devils are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 non-conference games.
- Sun Devils are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games after allowing more than 90 points in their previous game.
- Sun Devils are 15-7-2 ATS in their last 24 games following a ATS loss.
- Sun Devils are 10-26 ATS in their last 36 neutral site games.
- Sun Devils are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 Wednesday games.
- Sun Devils are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall.
- Sun Devils are 1-7-2 ATS in their last 10 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Sun Devils are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
- Over is 6-1 in Orange last 7 vs. Pacific-12.
- Under is 4-1 in Orange last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Over is 5-2 in Orange last 7 Wednesday games.
- Under is 5-2 in Orange last 7 games following a straight up loss.
- Under is 5-2 in Orange last 7 neutral site games.
- Under is 7-3 in Orange last 10 NCAA Tournament games.
- Under is 4-1 in Sun Devils last 5 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
- Over is 4-1 in Sun Devils last 5 NCAA Tournament games.
- Over is 7-2 in Sun Devils last 9 Wednesday games.
- Over is 6-2 in Sun Devils last 8 neutral site games.
- Over is 17-8-1 in Sun Devils last 26 non-conference games.