The Washington State Cougars basketball team’s next stop in its quest to exceed the football team’s win total is tonight in Tempe against the Arizona State Sun Devils who have won four of their last five and are still trying to position themselves as an NCAA Tournament team.
Tip off is scheduled for 5 p.m. PT and the game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks or at Pac-12.com or the Pac-12 Now app on your favorite streaming device.
The Bracket Matrix currently has the Sun Devils as an 11 seed, one of the final teams into the field. They’re squarely on the bubble, and a home loss to the Cougars would be absolutely crushing to their tournament hopes.
That said, WSU might benefit from being in a prime letdown spot: ASU is coming off an emotional overtime win over the Arizona Wildcats last week and is also surely thinking ahead to Saturday’s big-time matchup with the Washington Huskies. The latter is really the only chance the Sun Devils have the rest of the regular season to pick up any kind of quality win that might impress the committee.
Even that might not be enough to keep WSU in the game; kenpom.com projects this as a 16-point win for the Sun Devils with WSU winning in just 7 percent of all simulations.
I won’t harp too much on WSU’s defensive matchup with ASU — it’s a virtual certainty that the Sun Devils will score a bunch of points, unless they decide to take and then miss a whole bunch of threes. They’re not a fantastic shooting team.
What they are fantastic at is getting offensive rebounds and getting to the line. WSU is bad at defensive rebounding and terrible at defending the rim, choosing most of the time to just give up layups rather than foul opponents. Again, maybe ASU will take a bunch of threes instead of the likely wide open lanes to the rim, thinking they don’t really have to try very hard to beat WSU? You never know!
The Cougars do have a chance to put up points of their own, however. ASU boasts a fantastic two-point defense, but the Sun Devils give up tons of threes, which WSU will be all too happy to take. Perhaps they can get hot from deep and keep it close for longer than we expect — or, probably more likely, fall way behind, get hot to close to single digits so Ernie can talk about how close they were to winning, then fade to a 20-point loss.
Luguentz Dort gets all the pub for ASU as a potential one-and-done player, but it’s Remy Martin who has been destroying fools in Pac-12 play. The diminutive point guard has the Pac-12’s second best offensive efficiency in league play, shooting nearly 50 percent from three and assisting on nearly 40 percent of ASU’s buckets while rarely turning it over. He’s the guy you’ll watch tonight and think, “Why can’t we ever get a guy like that?”
Oh, and Zylan Cheatham will probably have 20 points and 15 rebounds against WSU’s weak front line. He only shoots 60 percent from the free throw line, though, so I’m 100% serious when I say that Davante Cooper should play and just foul Cheatham indiscriminately.