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Sun Devils Disrespected By Media, Selected As a Widespread Upset Special

Temple over Arizona State: It's a complete contrast in styles, but we don't think the Sun Devils will be able to stop Dionte Christmas from supplying enough offense to lead the Owls to a first-round victory.

That quote is from ESPN's AJ Mass.

Is it okay for me to take issue with this comment?

Temple, a team that went 11-5 in the Atlantic 10, will overpower ASU? Please.

James Harden is going to be a top 3 pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, which I believe he will be declaring himself eligible for. Strange, then, that there is no mention of him in that quote. Dionte Christmas is now Superman, apparently.

Andy Katz discusses both Harden and Christmas in his article from Tuesday.

Toughest matchup: Arizona State's James Harden can score in a variety of ways. He's a cerebral player who knows how to find his spots on the floor, too. If Harden produces, the Sun Devils can advance. If he doesn't, they won't. Simple enough?

Easiest name to remember: Dionte Christmas, Temple. He could carry the Owls to a win or two. Christmas scored 29 points in the A-10 final victory over Duquesne, 20 in the win over Xavier in the semifinals. Christmas had his best game of the season in the Owls' most significant nonconference win, scoring 35 against Tennessee in December.

Next, we look at ESPN Insider's "Giant Killers" model...



No. 11 Temple (32.6 percent) vs. No. 6 Arizona State (27.9 percent)

Dionte Christmas and Temple have the right stuff to take down a shaky Arizona State squad.

The Sun Devils play sloooow (61.2 possessions per game, by far the fewest among Giants), which means James Harden (20.8 ppg) is even more impressive than he looks. But ASU doesn't grab offensive rebounds (30.6 percent of possessions, 250th in the country). And they give opponents too many open looks from 3-point land (27.4 percent of all field goals). Temple, on the other hand, keeps foes off the offensive glass, doesn't turn the ball over and doesn't rely on free throws to outscore opponents. Also, our model can't distinguish between dominating scorers who can carry a team through the postseason and those who can be stopped as soon as they run into a good opponent, but senior guard Dionte Christmas certainly was the former in the Atlantic 10 tournament.

At least we aren't UCLA, who  is being picked ubiquitously by newly minted Bracketologists to be upset by Virginia Commonwealth.

I think the media's disrespect for ASU stems from our unexciting play and our lack of recent success in college basketball.

Everyone thinks they know how good James Harden is, but the fact of the matter is that they are disillusioned. Harden is a gamechanger, and will dominate the Temple Owls in every way imaginable. Take that to the bank, my friends.