Arizona State firmly believes it should be ranked in the AP top 25; defeating Marquette (3-1) would push the Sun Devils closer. The Sun Devils (5-0) haven't played any team of the Golden Eagles caliber yet this season.
Before the believers jump on the bandwagon, Jahii Carson and company need to maintain their success against other NCAA tournament contenders. Marquette fits the bill. The ASU season will be mainly dependent on conference play, yet nonconference marquee wins are critical to continue on into March.
Game Time: 7 P.M.
TV: Fox Sports 1
The Golden Eagles received an unexpected close call against New Hampshire, but still prevailed 58-53 last Thursday. Over the two previous contests, Buzz Williams saw his team score only 88 points, averaging an anemic 44 per game. No. 10 Ohio State dared Marquette to shoot from distance and stymied the Golden Eagles to 35 points.
The Marquette collective field goal percentage sits at .381, which is among the lowest in the country. In addition, 67.5 points per game places Marquette 288th, far below its capabilities. Conversely, Marquette did post 114 points against Grambling State. The trip to Tempe, Ariz. will be its first road game of the young season.
The strength to the team seems to be depth. After looking at the Marquette statistics, the wealth tends to spread around. Todd Mayo and Davante Gardner headline the group, tallying a combined 25-plus points and about nine rebounds per game. The Golden Eagles' intensity on the defensive side of the floor allows Marquette to hang around and compete.
The Sun Devils kept plugging right along last Friday, defeating Bradley 70-58. The trio of Carson, Jordan Bachynski and Jonathan Gilling did the majority of the damage. The numerous offensive weapons Herb Sendek possesses makes the Sun Devils very tough to game plan against.
Once the schedule was released, the common initial reaction was circling the Marquette game. As the ASU football program rises and gains notoriety, the basketball program hopes to do the same. There are plenty of hurdles in the way and overcoming the established Golden Eagles is an ideal beginning.
What to Watch
ASU and Marquette are nearly polar opposites. The Sun Devils can score in the blink of an eye, but at times, stops are hard to come by. Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles can barely throw the ball into the ocean all while locking down opposing offenses. A high scoring game favors ASU significantly, and a low scoring game favors Marquette significantly. Watching Carson and Jermaine Marshall attack the sound defensive Golden Eagle rotations should be very entertaining.
I may be in the minority here but I think ASU should win by at least eight points. The lowest total I can envision the Sun Devils being held to is around 60. Keep in mind, the Sun Devils lowest output was 70 against Bradley. Even 60 points should be plenty enough to beat Marquette, which struggles to shoot the rock. The best way to expose ASU on defense is from three-point land. The Golden Eagles are shooting 18 percent from there, so attacking the rim is their sole hope. At the same time, Jordan Bachynski clogs the lane well and swats shots away routinely. Therefore, it's hard to imagine Marquette getting on the scoreboard often enough. The Sun Devils need to make a statement and will make a statement.
Arizona State 66, Marquette 56