Last week was a massive one for ASU men’s basketball. Playing two games that were arguably must-win, the Sun Devils did just enough to beat UCLA and USC. In doing so, they kept their NCAA Tournament hopes alive.
However, desperate times will continue for ASU. After sweeping the Southern California schools, the Sun Devils make the trip to the other side of the state to face Cal and Stanford. Winning these games would go a long way for getting ASU further into the tournament picture. Here’s a look at those games in the Bay Area.
ASU v. Stanford (Thursday Feb. 13, 9 p.m. MST, Stanford, California)
ASU came up with two big wins at home over the weekend, but a road win against Stanford would be massive for the Sun Devils’ tournament hopes.
Stanford enters the game with an impressive 16-7 record, but after two losses against Utah and Colorado, the Cardinal have cooled off a bit.
The Cardinal have been anchored by their defense all season. They have consistently given up a low scoring total, conceding the eleventh fewest points per game in the country. Against a defense like that, the Sun Devils might struggle.
However, Stanford might be without one of its best players. Cardinal leading scorer and rebounder, junior forward Oscar da Silva, hit his head during Stanford’s loss to Colorado. His status for the ASU game is in doubt after the injury left him needing stitches. Da Silva’s absence would be a huge loss for Stanford, and ASU could take advantage.
However, given Stanford’s stout defense, I don’t expect the Sun Devils to put up the scoring needed to overcome their opponents. Averaging just over 73 points per game, it’s hard to see ASU scoring enough to win. I expect a low-scoring affair, and I don’t think ASU has what it takes to come out victorious.
Stanford: 63.28% chance to win
ASU: 36.72% chance to win
Prediction: Stanford 64, ASU 61
ASU v. California (Sunday Feb. 16, 4 p.m. MST, Berkeley, California)
If ASU loses to Stanford Thursday night, Sunday’s game against Cal becomes vital for the Sun Devils’ tournament chances. Luckily, the composite index gives them over a 90% chance to win, largely due to Cal’s poor showing in the system.
The Golden Bears’ low score is largely due to their offense. Only one player averages double figures, and they are one of the worst scoring teams in the country. They’ve only scored over 70 points in two of their conference games, so it would seem that ASU shouldn’t have much of a problem winning this one.
In the win against USC, sophomore forward Taeshon Cherry and freshman guard Jaelen House made huge defensive efforts to help the Sun Devils come back and get a big win. I expect the same from them against Cal’s poor offense. It should be another low scoring game, but this time, the Sun Devils will come out on top.
ASU: 93.83% chance to win
California: 6.17% chance to win
Prediction: ASU 68, California 60
After a wild weekend in the Pac-12, let’s take a look at where each team stands in the composite index.
A team's composite index is one number formed using stats and recruiting rankings from the past several years and games played this year. Read below to see specifics about how the composite index is formed.
The primary component of the composite index is a custom power index formed by statistics from previous seasons as well as recruiting rankings from the past several years. Stats are collected from Sports Reference and recruiting rankings are pulled from 247 Sports.
Essentially, stats that help a team’s success are added to the score and metrics that hurt are subtracted. This one-number scoring system makes for easy mathematical predictions for each game.
Because the current season is in progress, the system weighs recruiting rankings and stats from previous years higher than this season's numbers. As the season progresses, the composite index will weigh current statistics more and more. At this point in the season, most of the system's weight comes from this year.