Week 16 was a crucial week for ASU men’s basketball. Winnable games against Cal and Stanford presented the Sun Devils with a huge opportunity to make their case for a spot in the NCAA tournament.
ASU took care of business when it needed to most. Double-digit wins over both Bay Area schools convinced many, including ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, that the Sun Devils deserve a spot in the field.
However, this week’s road trip to Oregon is critical for ASU’s tournament hopes. Wins at Oregon and Oregon State would essentially cement its place in the tournament, but losses could put its fate in serious question.
Here are my predictions for the Sun Devil's trip to the Pacific Northwest:
ASU at Oregon (Thursday, Feb. 28, 9 p.m. MST)
Oregon was widely expected to win the Pac-12 in preseason predictions, and much like ASU the Ducks can win their way into the NCAA tournament with key late-season wins. ASU beat Oregon in Tempe last month in a game that featured a wildly athletic dunk by Zylan Cheatham.
A season sweep of Oregon would do wonders for ASU’s tournament odds, but the composite index slightly favors the Ducks.
Also, the Sun Devils have largely lived (and died) on their shooting percentage, which sunday’s win over Cal proved. After going into halftime losing, ASU shot its way to a 10-point win.
This plays right into Oregon’s hands. The Ducks are the top defense in the Pac-12 against three-point shots. ASU sharpshooters like redshirt junior guard Rob Edwards might struggle against this stout defense.
I just don’t see ASU being able to score efficiently on the road in a hostile environment.
Oregon: 50.42 percent chance to win
ASU: 49.58 percent chance to win
Prediction: Oregon 74, ASU 69
ASU at Oregon State (Sunday, March 3, 6 p.m. MST)
If ASU loses to Oregon, Sunday’s game against the Beavers could be a must-win if the Sun Devils want to make it into the tournament.
Oregon State came to Tempe last month and almost beat ASU. The composite index gives ASU a small advantage, and I agree that the Sun Devils have a good chance to win.
ASU can beat Oregon State for the same exact reason they will struggle against Oregon. Oregon State’s defense against the three-point shot sits in the bottom-third of Division I.
I already mentioned Edwards, but other shooters like sophomore forward Kimani Lawrence and freshman forward Taeshon Cherry should have a good day. I even expect freshman guard Luguentz Dort and sophomore guard Remy Martin to drop some shots from deep as well.
The Beavers struggle to defend the three-point line, and it will be their undoing against ASU.
ASU: 52.11 percent chance to win
Oregon State: 47.89 percent chance to win
Prediction: ASU 79, Oregon State 72
Now, here is a look at how each team in the Pac-12 compares in the composite index:
The composite index is formed by combining our own “Power Index” with other rankings and ratings. Read below to see specifics about how the composite index is formed.
The primary component of the composite index is a custom "power index" which combines various player/team unit rankings and scores to create one number that tells how good a team is overall.
However, because the custom index does not account for in-season changes, ESPN's BPI, Sagarin rankings and national composite scores are factored in as well.
After each of these scores are found for each team, the median and average of those scores for each team is calculated. The median and averages for each team are then averaged together to find the composite index score.
To predict games, the composite index scores for each team in the game are added together, adding 10 points for the home team. After that, the composite index score for each team is divided by that total to find win probability.