The Syracuse Orange (20-13, 8-10) are in the NCAA Tournament, and first up are the Arizona State Sun Devils (20-11, 8-10). These teams haven’t played since 2009, when the Orange shut down James Harden en route to a win. In 2017-18, ASU started the season red hot, before cooling off in Pac-12 play once everyone figured out they couldn’t do much against a zone. That sounds advantageous for us.
If you want to catch this First Four matchup, Syracuse and Arizona State tip off around 9:10 p.m. ET on truTV.
So what does (some of) the TNIAAM staff think will happen in this game?
Syracuse 71, Arizona State 64
The Orange’s length on the zone is going to be the difference maker here. If Syracuse can get out in transition just enough, they will find the needed offense to get them over the hump. Look for it to be a perimeter dominated game, where dribble penetration from Frank Howard and Tyus Battle prove to be too much.
Syracuse 70, Arizona State 62
Even with ASU’s recent struggles, the margin for error feels slim here. If the Sun Devils break 70, Cuse probably loses, but they’ve had plenty of time to prepare and to close the season SU did a solid job limiting great offenses. The foul situation may undermine them again, but if it doesn’t Syracuse looks like the better of the two teams entering at the moment. Can’t ignore how poorly ASU fared vs. zones this season.
Syracuse 64, Arizona State 61
This game is going to be decided by who controls the tempo. The Sun Devils want to get out and push the ball and if they can force the Orange into turnovers and quick shots, it will be to their benefit. If Syracuse can limt turnovers and hit the offensive boards they can slow things down and make Arizona State uncomfortable. The Orange need to come out strong and force Holder and Evans to press the issue by taking quick 3s. One of the Orange frontcourt players is going to be covered by a smaller Kodi Justice so they must take advantage of the mismatch at least on the boards.
Syracuse 74, Arizona State 70
This will be an interesting clash of tempos, but I think the Orange win by way of the zone and ASU’s inconsistency defending the paint. Syracuse is bigger, and should be able to do some work inside. Plus, without the ability to keep SU outside the arc, it’ll provide opportunities for Tyus Battle, Oshae Brissett and Frank Howard to drive the lane — which is when they’re most dangerous as scorers. Syracuse gets a comfortable lead in the second half, then reverts to stall-ball too early leading to a mini-comeback by ASU. Then SU holds on to win.
What will be the outcome of the Syracuse vs. Arizona State game?
This poll is closed
Syracuse wins and YOU’RE NEXT, TCU!
Syracuse loses and we’re bummed, but this was still a successful season