The boys in Maroon and Gold have had a brutal season and this is the only squad in a major conference that hasn't won back to back games once this year. This wouldn't be a bad time to erase that dubious distinction – at home, to end the season, against your heavily favored opponent that just so happens to be your hated rival.
For Arizona, these guys are skating on very thin ice in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament Committee and any slip-ups could be the final nail in the coffin. Sean Miller is a great coach and the Wildcats have a lot of skill but the resume should be better considering the Pac-12's lack of talent.
Both ASU and UA are coming off victories and both teams are looking for that last morsel of momentum heading into the Pac-12 Tournament next week. For Arizona, the matter of seeding is still very much in play while ASU just wants to dump rain on this potential Wildcat parade.
Five Things to Know About Arizona
1 – Brendon Lavender is the X-Factor in this game; Lavender, a local product from Mountain View has really done well in finding his role in the system and that role is long-range assassin. The senior is hitting over 50% from long range and if you've ever watched a Herb Sendek coached team, the matchup zone tends to leave some guys way too open for three. If Lavender is hitting his shots, his effort could be the difference.
2 – Kyle Fogg needs to graduate; although he only scored 6 points in the first meeting between these two teams, there is something about Wells Fargo Arena that Fogg just seems to enjoy a little too much. In his first three years, Fogg has gone off for 14, 21 and 26 in Arizona's trips to Tempe. Like Lavender, Fogg is very dangerous from deep and just seems to get hot right when ASU starts to make noise. Shut down Fogg, and the coast to victory is a little clearer.
3 – This fan base got way too worked over nothing; Remember the war between these two schools when it came to recruiting Kyryl Natyazkho? He is a complete non-factor having played just three times in the last 12 games. He has also never once scored in double-digits in his career. Even Ruslan Pateev has done that. Maybe the Devils actually won this recruiting battle.
4 – Arizona lost to Seattle Pacific at home to open the season. Seattle Pacific lost to Western Washington twice this year. Just about no one has ever heard of Western Washington but based on deductive reasoning, Western Washington would trounce Arizona.
5 – Desperation is stinky cologne; Arizona needs this win in a bad way because they are already firmly on the bubble with an underwhelming resume so any blemish is a bad one at this point. Losing to a 9-20 team is about 15 blemishes in one. If Arizona plays desperately in this one, they will play not to lose and that opens up the door for ASU to go for the kill shot. Here's hoping.
How ASU Wins: Rivalries are funny because records simply do not matter. That's not to say the Wildcats won't come out and rip ASU by 25 points but it just really means that there is more hope for an enormous upset mainly because beating your rivals is better than your first kiss and after the football fiasco, the Devils wouldn't mind righting all the wrongs that derailed ASU athletics in the last six months. Think about it, the Wildcats are looking ahead because ASU stinks and they are going to coast, right? Wrong! Chris Colvin to Jordan Bachynski is going to be like Stockton and Malone for just one afternoon. That's all we need. Upset special – let's get frisky.
Final Score – ASU 59 Arizona 58