Both teams come in ranked in the Top 20 with something to prove and desperate not to see their rival claim victory.
And here are three things to watch:
Offense, offense, and more offense
Both Arizona and Arizona State are offensive juggernauts that score the ball almost effortlessly. Per KenPom’s efficiency rankings, ASU has the fourth-most efficient offense in the country, while UA places sixth.
The Sun Devils have yet to score less than 75 points in a game, and have eclipsed 100 points twice, including in an impressive win over No. 6 Xavier.
The Wildcats haven’t quite managed those gaudy numbers, but they’ve impressed nonetheless. Allonzo Trier has averaged 21.2 points per game, with DeAndre Ayton and Rawle Alkins not far behind at 19.5 and 16 ppg, respectively.
This game could come down to simply who can outshoot the other. Don’t be surprised if this game approaches 200 combined points.
Wildcat frontcourt vs. Sun Devil backcourt
One area the two teams differ on is the positions their best players play. Both teams have undisputed leaders in Deandre Ayton for the Wildcats and Tra Holder for the Sun Devils.
While both teams may have powerful offenses, the different positions of their stars means they reach those high scores in very different ways.
For Arizona State, the teams loves to smallball and have Holder and fellow wing Kodi Justice shoot the three. Almost a third of ASU’s points come from behind the arc.
The Wildcats, on the other hand, focus on getting the ball to Ayton down low. UA only focuses on the 3 when defenses shift their focus onto Ayton, freeing up the outside shot. Arizona gets 54 percent of its points from inside the arc.
It’s likely this game will come down to which style of play, and the stars that fit into each style, can dominate.
If there’s one player on either team who is the biggest X-factor, it’s ASU power forward Romello White.
ASU’s guards get most of the attention, and rightfully so, but White has been a huge part of the Sun Devils’ success, averaging 14.9 points and 8.6 rebounds per contest.
“In my mind, one of the most understated players on their team and a big concern for anybody that plays them is Romello White who is a big guy that has fantastic hands, rebounds, and gives them an inside presence that makes what they do even that much more difficult to defend,” Arizona head coach Sean Miller said.
White vs. Ayton in the post could be the most matchup of the night, and while Ayton certainly has more name recognition and is a fantastic player, the battle could go White’s and the Sun Devils’ way if he can do what no other player has done: shut down Ayton (or at least limit him).