Yesterday it was Colby Woodmansee's walkoff getting 63% of the vote over ASU winning the overall Territorial Cup Series for 2015 (37%). Here is how the bracket stands midway through the round of 16.
Seed No. 3: ASU basketball beats Arizona
On February 7 inside Wells Fargo Arena, Arizona's basketball team suffered a severe case of déjà vu. Exactly 51 weeks before, the No. 2 Wildcats came into Tempe and had the court rushed on them twice in a heartbreaking, double overtime loss on Valentine's night.
A repeat of that upset in the 2015 campaign seemed unlikely. Once again, Sean Miller's team had the makings of one that was going to take home the Pac-12 title, while Arizona State entered the contest with a sour record of 3-6 in conference play.
Morale was not helped by the fact that the Wildcats had destroyed its rival, 73-49, a month earlier in Tucson. Pulling the shocker for a second straight year was not going to be impossible, but it certainly did not seem likely.
Someone forgot to tell the Sun Devils that.
After falling behind into an early 23-16 deficit, the maroon and gold locked down the explosive Wildcat offense and ended up taking a seven point advantage into the locker room. The second half was fraught with tension, both teams being able to take hits and respond with big shot after big shot.
The turning point came with just under 90 seconds remaining, when Brandon Ashley blew a layup that would have pulled Arizona within two points. Both teams fought hard for the rebound, but Arizona State ended up earning possession via a jump ball. Sharpshooter Bo Barnes was able to complete a five point swing on the other end of the floor, burying the three-pointer seen in the image above to put his team up by seven.
The final minute of the game seemed to last an eternity thanks to timeouts, fouls, and various other stoppages, but the closest the visitors would ever get was within three. A T.J. McConnell triple with less than a second left made the score 81-78, but its meaning was moot. Moments later, the 942 crew stormed the court for a second straight year, leaving Arizona's players and fans in stunned disbelief.
Yes, lighting had struck twice.
Barnes led the Sun Devils with 18 points off the bench, none of which were more important than the late three that ended up putting the dagger into the Wildcats. Forward Savon Goodman put together a tremendous afternoon consisting of 15 points and nine rebounds, and he was joined by two other players in double figures.
Seed No. 14: Curtain of Distraction goes national
In 2012, Arizona State experienced its best men’s basketball success since its run to the NCAA tournament that James Harden took the Sun Devils to in 2009. Jahii Carson and Jordan Bachynski were the cornerstones of that ASU team that went 21-12 and made an NIT run, bringing an excitement to ASU that the basketball team hadn’t garnered from fans since Harden’s days in Tempe.
The 2012 season served as the foundation for the 2013 campaign that saw ASU finish third in the conference and make an appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Carson and Bachynski paced the team to wins over marque basketball programs such as Arizona, UNLV and Marquette.
That 2013 campaign was the last that Carson and Bachynski was participate in, but another ASU fan favorite that emerged in that year has become a mainstay of the ASU basketball student experience. Yes, it’s the Curtain of Distraction.
The 942 Crew, ASU’s university-run club dedicated to improving student attendance at Sun Devil athletics, debuted the Curtain in 2013 with the intention of giving fans kicks and inducing opponent bricks. When an opposing player shoots a free throw in the student section side of the court, an eccentrically-dressed and likely-dancing distractor gets their five seconds to disrupt the shooter’s focus.
Everyone who’s seen the Curtain has a favorite character, whether it be the Left Shark they debuted after the Super Bowl, the dancing grandma, the ever-hilarious kissing horses or another invention of 942 Crew’s comedically-twisted mind.
The Curtain became an early favorite of ASU students, and soon the rest of the sports world caught on. Coke Zero filmed a commercial with the Curtain that aired throughout the 2013 NCAA tournament, but it wasn’t until the Curtain returned in 2014-15 that its popularity soared. ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports and Bleacher Report among others are examples of major media outlets that either featured the Curtain on one of their shows or wrote about it on their site.
The New York Times, arguably the most widely-respected newspaper in the country, published a in-depth study that delved into the statistics to determine the Curtain’s effectiveness or lack thereof. Their conclusion? The Curtain makes a 5-10-percent difference in visiting team free-throw attempts, proving that what could’ve easily just been a viral sensation will remain part of the fabric of ASU basketball for the foreseeable future.