For the Sun Devils, it all starts at point guard with 5-foot-10, 175-pound freshman Jahii Carson. You can make a legitimate argument that Carson has been one of the best freshmen in the country and it will be a debate between him and Shabazz Muhammad for the best in the Pac-12. Even if you do not think he is the better than Muhammad, it is hard to deny the impact that Carson has had this season.
Carson is currently averaging 17 points, five assists, and three rebounds per game while shooting 45 percent from the field. The point guard has only had a handful of mediocre games and has had some spectacular ones as well, including a 30-point performance against Creighton and six other games in which he has scored at least 20 points.
The most intriguing aspect of Carson's scoring is that he is not a good three-point shooter. He has only made 17 of 56 attempts and does not seem to be comfortable shooting behind the arc, as he would rather rely on getting into the lane and working on his mid-range game.
Still, that aspect of his game is extremely impressive and one that has been difficult to stop all season. Carson seems to thrive on drawing defenders when he gets into the lane and finding the open man. If the opposing team does not respect him enough, he has absolutely no hesitation in shooting the ball once he is closer to the basket.
Carson averages 3.5 turnovers per game and often gets caught trying to do a bit too much, but the Sun Devils are fine with those turnovers because it is evened out by the better plays he makes.
While it often seems that Carson is the only solid guard on ASU, there is some other talent, although it is inconsistent. Evan Gordon is the 6-foot-1, 187-pound shooting guard for the Sun Devils and he is shooting only 36 percent from the field for about ten points while also adding three rebounds and two assists.
When Gordon plays well, ASU is a much more difficult team to defeat. He scored 17 points on a good shooting percentage against Oregon, but only had three points combined in his previous three games. A closer look at Gordon's numbers reveals that he has much better performances against teams that are not as good as others on the schedule.
That does not mean he is going to struggle against Arizona, but his numbers and pattern this season shows that it is less likely than it would be against the lower teams in the conference.
In addition to Carson and Gordon, Arizona State will give a handful of minutes to 6-foot-2, 185-pound Chris Colvin. Colvin started the season getting relatively substantial minutes, but they have gone down as the season has progressed.
He averages about six points and four rebounds and has only scored in double digits twice, which was in the first two games of the season. Colvin's biggest strength is probably on the glass, although he can be good for a three-pointer or two each game.
Arizona State's strength in the backcourt is obviously with Carson and to his credit, he makes the players around him much better. Arizona's focus will certainly be on containing him and Mark Lyons will get the first shot.
If the Wildcats allow Carson to get going early and get into the lane, it could be a long afternoon. He is a player that thrives on confidence and momentum, which Arizona will be looking at shutting down right away.