Arizona State Sun Devils (16-5) at Washington Huskies (15-6)
We picked up an easy win last night when we backed Penn State on the road against Michigan State. It wasn’t that I particularly liked Penn State or disliked Michigan State, I just know these conference games are always going to be much tighter than most people think. Literally, everyone jumped on Michigan State in this one.
The line opened at Penn State +12 and closed out at +14.5. The Nittany Lions actually led at the half, and hung on for the fairly easy cover, losing 76-68. Michigan State started the season out by blowing out some very good teams, recently though they haven’t been able to cover a number at all. They have really struggled in league play to cover these over-sized double-digit numbers, and I will continue to look for ways to bet against them on the road in conference play.
As for Penn State? I absolutely see this team making the NCAA tournament this season. They need a couple more big wins, but I think they will get them and go dancing in March.
Today I will shift focus to the PAC-12, when I break down the matchup between the Arizona State Sun Devils and the Washington Huskies.
The Arizona State Sun Devils will travel to Seattle Thursday night to face the Huskies of Washington. Arizona State comes in ranked #25 in the country and has struggled in conference play this season, especially on the road.
The Huskies have played well in PAC-12 league play this season and hold a 5-3 record in league games. The Huskies find themselves firmly on the bubble this season and badly need a big resume-building win like this tonight on their home court. The Sun Devils are -3.5-point road favorites. The game total over-under is set at 157.5 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 8:00 PM PST from Hec Ed Arena.
I like Arizona State a lot this year. Head coach Bobby Hurley has them playing a fast and fun style of basketball. They run and gun and are a threat to put up a hundred points on any team they face. They started out the season 12-0 in the non-conference with some huge wins. Wins over Kansas, Xavier, and Kansas State had many people penciling the Sun Devils into the Final Four. They rose to as high as number three in the national rankings.
Then PAC-12 league play started, and the wheels sort of fell off. They started league playoff with a classic game against in-state rival Arizona, that saw them come up just short. No reason to hang your head, the Wildcats are a top ten team and very talented. But after that game, it’s like the Sun Devils lost that swagger that made them so good.
Arizona State followed up the loss to Arizona with losses to Colorado, Oregon, Stanford, and Utah. The Sun Devils are a very disappointing 4-5 in conference play. They took what looked like a national championship level team and have played themselves into eighth place in the PAC-12.
Arizona State’s struggles have mainly been on the road. The losses to Arizona, Colorado, and Stanford have all come on the road. Even the games that Arizona State has managed to win on the road in league play have been tight ones.
They barely snuck past a very over-matched Oregon State team 77-75 and a bubble team at best Utah team, 80-77. Had this team dropped those games, and they very well could have, we would be talking about Arizona State as a possible bubble team.
It is a bit of a head-scratcher as to why Arizona State has struggled so much in what looks like a down league this year. Maybe the PAC-12 is a lot better than everyone is giving it credit for. Maybe Arizona State just wasn’t as good as they looked early in the year. They will need to snap out of that funk tonight if they are going to beat a game Washington team on their home court.
Not many expected big things out of the Washington Huskies this season. But here we are with Washington at 15-6 and in third place in the PAC-12. The Huskies have one great win, beating the Kansas Jayhawks in Kansas City, but outside of that, don’t have much to brag about.
The road win at USC was a very nice one but wins against Washington State twice, California, and Colorado make up the rest of the Huskies five league wins. They have not yet had to play either Arizona team and lost to UCLA. They will get their first real home test tonight against Arizona State.
This is a tough game to handicap. My heart tells me that Arizona State is still the team I watched drop a hundo on Xavier and beat Kansas by double digits. But my brain tells me this team has struggled badly in conference play, especially on the road. And that team that scored a hundred multiple times and started the season out 12-0, averaging a best in the nation at the time 93 points game? They haven’t scored more than 81 points in a game so far in league play.
As is almost always the case I am going to side with my brain and take the logic here. Arizona State just isn’t good on the road and Washington is commendable at home. My heart tells me that Arizona State will find a way to sneak out of Seattle with the victory, but my brain says snatch up those 3.5-points and expect a tight game.
Give me the Washington Huskies tonight as home underdogs getting 3.5-points.