After going 2-0 in the Regional Round of the Legends Classic, the Arizona State Sun Devils are in New York for the bracketed portion of the tournament. Joining them there are three power conference opponents, and perhaps the most talked about player in the country.
Schedule (All times MT)
LSU vs Marquette, 5:00 PM, ESPN2
Arizona State vs NC State, 7:15 PM, ESPN3
Consolation Game, 3:30 PM, ESPN2 or ESPNU
Championship Game, 5:45 PM, ESPN2 or ESPNU
Arizona State Update (2-1):
The Bobby Hurley era got off to a rocky start when Arizona State dropped its season opener to Sacramento State, but the team has since rebounded nicely. The offense performed at a much higher level in game two against Belmont, where the Sun Devils topped a good Bruins team, 83-74.
We last saw the maroon and gold play on Wednesday night, where they took care of business to the tune of a 38-point victory against Kennesaw State. The Owls have nowhere close to the talent of ASU's first two opponents, but it was important for some of the team's bench players to break out and gain some confidence as the schedule starts to toughen up.
Shooting guard Gerry Blakes currently leads Arizona State with 14.3 points per game, but three other players are averaging in double figures. Balance has been the name of the game for Hurley's offense so far this season, and they will need more of the same this week if they want to come home with a couple of wins.
NC State Update (2-1):
The Sun Devils weren't the only ones that got off on a wrong foot. NC State faced William & Mary on opening night and were blitzed by the Tribe from the outset, eventually falling by 17.
The Wolfpack are 2-0 since, easily cruising by South Alabama and IUPUI. The backcourt combo of Caleb Martin and Anthony "Cat" Barber is one to watch for Sun Devil fans. Both players have All-ACC potential and are currently averaging 18.3 and 15.7 points per game, respectively.
The key to an Arizona State victory will be forcing the Wolfpack into bad shots that come late in the shot clock. If they are able to run their offense and get their quick and athletic players close to the basket, it could be a long night.
LSU Update (3-0):
Freshman sensation Ben Simmons has lived up to the hype so far this year. The forward has averaged 19, 13, and 5 over his first three games and is coming off a 23 point performance on Thursday against South Alabama.
The guys around him are doing pretty good as well. Freshman guard Antonio Blakeney leads the team with 19.3 points per game, while two other Tigers are averaging in double figures.
LSU's schedule, however, hasn't exactly been the most challenging. The three opponents it has faced have gone a combined 0-9 against Division I teams thus far, so this tournament will be the first test for this young but talented roster.
Marquette Update (1-2):
It has not been the easiest of starts for second-year head coach Steve Wojciechowski, who played point guard at Duke a year after one Bobby Hurley left Durham. Marquette opened the season with a three point loss to the same Belmont team that the maroon and gold beat, then got run out of its own gym six days later in a 89-61 loss to Iowa.
Sandwiched between those two tough losses was an ugly overtime victory against IUPUI. The Golden Eagles should benefit from getting away from home and playing a couple of games on the road, if just for a change of scenery more than anything. They do not have the talent to beat the Tigers in the semifinals, but don't be surprised if they compete well in game two.
LSU - 83, Marquette - 73
Arizona State - 80, NC State - 78
LSU - 80, Arizona State - 75
NC State - 70, Marquette - 66