When: 4:00 pm PT
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Have an incredibly young team with various injury issues? Send 'em to Tempe to start the Pac-12 season with one of the toughest road games you could play in the conference!
Arizona State is good, but you probably already knew that. They went 9-3 in non-conference play despite injury issues, and two of their losses came to top 10 teams by a combined 6 points. As per usual, ASU plays 10 players at least 10 minutes/game and have balanced scoring with four players averaging right around 10 points/game. They hang their hat on defense and rebounding. They will still do mass substitutions, and they still play slow it down basketball (currently the 301st most slow team in the nation out of 349).
ASU kinda has the same team every year. I should just link to a preview I did four years ago.
PG Elisha Davis, 5'3'' Senior
G Katie Hempen, 5'9'' Senior
F Kelsey Moos, 6'0'' Junior
F Sophie Brunner, 6'1'' Junior
C Quinn Dornstauder, 6'4'' Junior
G Arnecia Hawkins, 5'10'' Senior
G Sabrina Haines, 5'10'' Freshman
G Peace Amukamara, 5'7'' Senior
G Eliza Normen, 6'0'' Senior
F Kianna Ibis, 6'1'' Freshman
Brunner and Dornstauder are the two highest usage players on offense, but ASU expects every player on the court to be involved and take shots, and Cal really can't shade their defense towards anybody in particular. Hempen and Haines are the designated 3 point gunners, and both are shooting north of 40% at the moment.
Our Computer Overlords Predict
Sagarin Predictor: Arizona State by 6.1 points
Cal's computer numbers have exploded upwards over the last few games thanks to surprise wins over Nebraska and UCLA and a blowout over UC Riverside. However, they haven't quite risen to the point where you would predict a road win over a ranked team like Arizona State.
Still, the Bears are clearly playing much better basketball of late than they did to start the season, and that's reason enough to think that this game could very well be a dogfight.
Keys to the game
1. 2 point defense
ASU's offense has been solidly decent, but they have struggled at times to get and make decent 2 point looks. Meanwhile, Cal's defense has been up and down with their 2 point defenses. Some teams just can't deal with Cal's speed and length, while other teams can pass their way through Cal's various zone looks. The Bears have had strong defensive games against ASU's slow style in the past, so there's reason for optimism today.
2. Keep the offensive mojo going
Cal has scored more than a point/possession in four straight games, a run that has pushed the Bears up to 28th in the country in unadjusted offensive efficiency. ASU is a tougher defensive test than any team in that run. Will Kristine Anigwe be able to continue to get high value looks against 6'4'' Quinn Dornstauder? Can Courtney Range take on Sophie Brunner? Can Asha Thomas continue to operate the offense at a high level against a defense that will offer fewer obvious passes? We'll find out this afternoon.
3. Team rebounding
ASU's deepest identity as a team might be collective rebounding - everybody is expected to box somebody out and attack the ball. Cal, despite their size and athleticism, has been merely average on the boards and has, on occasion (Texas A&M, UCLA) given up plenty of traction on the glass. If Cal can keep things even on the glass, their superior offensive execution could carry them to a big road upset.