The Arizona State men's basketball team will kick off its season on Friday against the University of Maryland Baltimore County (what a mouthful) at Wells Fargo Arena.
It will be the start of the Sun Devils' quest for their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2009. In order to get into the tournament conversation, Arizona State will have to win against some marquee opponents. If you're a Sun Devil fan, here are the games you're not going to want to miss.
ASU vs. UMBC (November 8th)
The season opener is a must see for Sun Devil fans. It will be the first time that we will get to see a completely new starting line up in action for Arizona State. Jermaine Marshall, Shaq McKissic, Chance Murray, Caelen Robinson and Richie Edwards are all new players that could see significant minutes this season and it will be interesting to see how head coach Herb Sendek decides to utilize them. Quite frankly, I didn't even know that UMBC was an actaul thing until the basketball schedule came out. With the help of a quick Google search, I found out that this is a team that finished with an 8-23 overall last season. This game will be over about five minutes into the first half, but it will certainly get people in the basketball spirit.
ASU vs. Marquette (November 25th)
This game will be Arizona State's first tough test of the season. Marquette was an elite eight team last year and is currently ranked 17th in the preseason AP poll. If the Sun Devils can pull off the upset in Tempe, it could do wonders for their tournament hopes. This should be the toughest non-conference opponent ASU faces all season. With the loss of point guard Junior Cadougan, Maquette will have an inexperienced back court. This means that ASU point guard Jahii Carson will really be able to shine in the game.
ASU vs. Washington (January 2nd)
The Sun Devils' match up with the Huskies will mark their start of conference play. Last season, Arizona State lost two crucial games to the Huskies, so revenge will be on their minds. The Huskies return star guard CJ Wilcox, and have also added highly-touted recruit Nigel Williams-Goss. In a lot of ways both teams are similar. The Huskies and Sun Devils each feature star players that want to prove critics wrong and both teams feel they are underrated. Arizona State was picked to finish seventh in the Pac-12, while Washington was picked to finish eighth. Expect it to be a very close game in Tempe.
ASU vs. Arizona (January 16th and February 14th)
Simply put, these two games will be some of the most exciting basketball in the Pac-12 this season. As the sixth ranked team in the country, Arizona is a serious contender to win the national championship. When Arizona State travels to Tucson on January 16th, it will easily be the biggest game of the season. Jahii Carson has two games left against his in-state rival, and the possibility of pulling off the upset is extremely enticing to him. At media day Carson said this was the game that he had circled on his calendar. While the Wildcats lost seniors Solomon Hill and Mark Lyons, they have added five-star forward Aaron Gordon. Watching these two Pac-12 superstars clash will be must-see basketball. Oh, and did we mention this will have Territorial Cup Series ramifications?