clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

ASU Women's Basketball: Preview of Women's Opening Round

ASU comes into the 2016 NCAA Women's Tournament with its highest seeding yet, and get to play in the comfort of Wells Fargo Arena to kick it off.

Casey Sapio-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State's women's basketball already made history this month, earning a No. 2 seed in the NCAA tourney to mark the program's highest ranking heading into March Madness. ASU earned a No. 2 seed in the Sioux Falls region, and look poised to advance to the program's first Elite Eight since 2009.

But these Sun Devils will look to make more history than just that. ASU's never been to a Final Four - men's or women's - and with ASU locked and loaded for another crack at it, this won't be a tournament any Sun Devil wants to miss.

ASU kicks off their tourney run today at 4:30 against New Mexico State, and the Sun Devils get the opportunity to earn their way into the Sweet 16 solely through Wells Fargo. For those just getting acquainted with the team, here's a basic preview for Friday's, here's some quick notes to know.

Arizona State

After a disappointing end to an exciting season came at the hands of Florida State in the 2015 Sweet 16, ASU hit the ground running in 2016, culminating in a share of the regular season conference title for the first time since 2001.

Their 16-2 record in the Pac-12 tied the 2006-07 season that saw ASU advance to the Elite Eight as the best Pac-10/12 mark in program history. A 9-0 start in conference play helped the Sun Devils lead the table from start to finish, and head coach Charli Turner Thorne was named the 2016 Pac-12 Coach of the Year as a result.

After losing star Promise Amukumara to graduation at the end of last year, the Sun Devils got consistent production from a number of key contributors, and three of them were placed on the Pac-12's All-Conference Team. Seniors Katie Hempen and Elisha Davis and junior Sophie Brunner were named to the all-league squad, but the depth and defense from the Sun Devils is what helped pace them to such an impressive campaign.

Eight different players have led the team in scoring this year, and ASU suffocated their opposition's offense. When averaged out, all of ASU's opponents in 2015-16 have scored 16.4 points less than their season average. The Sun Devils can play D.

New Mexico State

The 15-seed in this year's tourney, the Aggies are participating in their fourth NCAA tourney. However, there's zero denying New Mexico State's credentials, putting a landmark season with a 26-4 record and an outright conference title as well as taking home their conference tournament's title.

New Mexico State is paced by senior point guard Sasha Weber, whose career numbers rank up there with the best in the country. She ranks 10th in the country for career three-pointers made, and shot 40.9% from deep this season.

Beyond Weber, the Aggies have an assortment of productive role players, most notably Mariah Mack, who was named to the All-WAC first team along with Weber this season after averaging 11.3 points per game.

If New Mexico State is to hang with the Sun Devils early, it'll be because of a defense that forced a turnover ratio of +4.8 this season, and three-point shooting from their guards.

Matchup Info

Time: 4:30 MST

Where: Wells Fargo Arena

TV: ESPN2 and WatchESPN