On Thursday, the Arizona Wildcats will head north to Tempe to rematch the Arizona State Sun Devils, who they beat 84-78 earlier in the season in Tucson.
No. 17 Arizona (20-6, 10-3) is coming off a win vs. USC, and has a two-game lead atop the Pac-12 standings.
No. 25 ASU (19-6, 7-6) is on a three-game winning streak, but Bobby Hurley has never beaten Sean Miller during his tenure at ASU.
That said, KenPom gives ASU a 60 percent chance of winning of Thursday’s game, with a projected score 84-82.
Here is what we think will happen. Be sure to leave your score predictions in the comment section below.
Ryan Kelapire — ASU wins 87-81
ASU’s two best offensive strengths — 3-point shooting and getting to the free throw line — are Arizona’s biggest weaknesses defensively. Add that to a hostile road environment, and I see the Sun Devils taking this one.
In any case, both these teams are good offensively but bad defensively, so it could simply come down to who can string a few stops together or, rather, which team misses more open looks.
The Sun Devils missed several open 3s in the first matchup, but I expect those same shots to fall Thursday with the home crowd behind them.
From the get-go, I always thought these two teams would split the season series, anyway.
Scott Moran — Arizona wins 86-83
If you’d have asked me who would win this game after these teams’ first matchup, I’d have said ASU wins easily. Two weeks ago, I would’ve said the Wildcats win easily. Now, I’m much more on the fence.
This Arizona team continues to scare me. The talent level on this team is absurd, and for them to still seem to be looking for an identity on defense is troublesome.
On the other side, Arizona State has not looked good in Pac-12 play yet. The 12-0 team with a road win at Kansas has become a mediocre team currently around an 8 or 9 seed in most projections. Somehow, the Sun Devils have disappointed as much as the ‘Cats.
Can ASU pull off a win? Of course, especially in Tempe. When it’s a toss-up however, you have to go to the team with a talent advantage. UA has that, and hopefully they can use it to pull out a close win and series sweep.
Steve Apter — ASU wins 91-88 (OT)
Seniors Tra Holder and Shannon Evans know how much getting this victory would mean for Hurley and their program, and they both have a experience beating Arizona at The Bank. Although Bobby Hurley has lost his first five attempts at Sean Miller, prior to his arrival, ASU beat the Wildcats at home in three of Herb Sendek’s final four seasons.
Much like Remy Martin gave ASU a boost in their first matchup in Tucson with a steal, dunk, and a 3 in his first minute on the floor, Kimani Lawrence is going to bring great energy off ASU’s bench. Lawrence is the Devils’ highest-ranked recruit in years. They beat out the likes of Florida and Texas for his services. He is starting to put it together after missing their first 14 games — in their most recent win over UCLA, Lawrence posted 8 points, 7 boards and three steals, all career highs.
If Arizona gets this victory, it will be because Allonzo Trier plays efficiently and gets to the charity stripe. In Arizona’s six losses this season, Trier is 10-for-38 from 3, and in recent losses to against UCLA and Colorado, Trier didn’t get to the line at all. Trier has attempted zero free throws in five games in his career, and Arizona has lost four of them. In a hostile environment against a team driven by guard play, Trier needs to calm things down and get their guards in foul trouble for Arizona to come out with a win.
Christopher Boan — ASU wins 90-87 (in OT)
I just don’t see Arizona’s sloppy defensive scheme stopping ASU on the Sun Devils’ home court right now.
The Sun Devil’s trio of Tra Holder, Shannon Evans II and Kodi Justice were scorching against UCLA, scoring 62 points combined, which doesn’t exactly bode well for a defense ranked 107th in KenPom’s Defensive Efficiency standings.
The Sun Devils will feed off a sellout crowd at Wells Fargo Arena, and will do just enough to fend off the Wildcats on their home court, though it may take an extra session (or two) to do so.
Get your popcorn ready, this one’s going to be a helluva ballgame.
Matt Sheeley — Arizona wins 85-83
I thought that I was going to have to be the bad guy, fully prepared to predict a Sun Devil victory. But now seeing my comrades go that direction, I will instead be the light of positivity.
The Devils don’t have the size to contend with Deandre Ayton and Dusan Ristic, the crowd could turn very pro-Arizona if the Wildcats snatch an early lead and something tells me that the ‘Cats have Bobby Hurley’s number.
Or not. No result would surprise but one thing seems certain — it’ll be fun to watch.
Jason Bartel — Cincinnati beats Houston 78-71
Thursday is all about the nation’s longest winning streak coming to Houston and playing the Coogs in a gym that isn’t even theirs.
I think Cincinnati will keep their winning ways going thanks to their ability to overpow.....
Oh I thought we were talking about the game I’m going to on Thursday.....how embarrassing.
ASU beats Arizona 83-78. Sorry not sorry.