After just 6 conference games it’s already time for a Pac-12 rematch, so let the lazy CGB copy/pasting begin!
ASU has gone 3-1 since beating Cal, with three blowout wins over Utah, Colorado, and WSU and an 11 point loss to Washington. That pretty much fits the profile of ASU as the best team in the pack chasing Washington, Stanfurd, Oregon St., and UCLA.
PG Reili Richardson
G Sabrina Haines
G Robbi Ryan
F Sophie Brunner
C Quinn Dornstauder
F Kianna Ibis
G Kiara Russell
ASU will look slightly different this time around. Veteran forward Kelsey Moos was injured in overtime against Cal, but her loss has been offset by the injury return of Kiara Russell. The seven players above are the players who will contribute in close games, which is unusual for the Sun Devils, who typically prefer to play a deep bench.
Keys to the game
1) Improve on the defensive glass
Probably the biggest reason Cal couldn’t close out a huge win in Tempe? ASU pulled down 19 offensive rebounds compared to Cal’s 24 defensive rebounds. Allowing the opponent to rebound 44% of their own misses? That’s the type of thing the Final 4 Bears did. ASU is relentless on the glass, and they’ll get their share of offensive boards, so it will be up to Cal to limit that number.
2) Confidence and success on 3 pointers
There’s no secret what ASU’s defensive game plan is - they’re going to absolutely surround Kristine Anigwe, and force Cal’s guards and wings to shoot over the top. Cal actually did that decently well in Tempe (8-24) but they’ll need to do at least as well this time around. All of Cal’s shooters are going to need the confidence (and, perhaps, the short memory) to hoist up open looks when they get them, without hesitating.
3) More foul line equity
The other big reason Cal lost in Tempe? ASU made an absurd 19 more free throws than Cal. That was a mixture of getting to the line more, and shooting better. Let’s hope that a) Cal will foul a bit less this time around b) the refs will give us a home court edge on their calls and c) when we get to the line, we shoot better than 22%.
Our Computer Overlords Predict
Sagarin Predictor: ASU by 2 points
This is quite possibly the single most important game left in Cal’s regular season. Arizona State is the best of three opportunities for Cal to pick up an RPI top 25 win at home. True, Cal will have shots against UCLA and Stanfurd later on, but those two teams a a touch better than ASU. While the Devils are slight favorites, there’s plenty of room for a mild, mild upset - especially at Haas.