No. 19 ASU (11-3, 2-1) has had no lack of challenges in their schedule thus far. No. 4 Baylor, No. 2 Louisville - who just lost their first game to No. 1 Notre Dame - and a shocking upset to Arizona. But now their toughest series comes to Tempe in not one, but two ranked teams.
No. 6 Stanford (12-1, 2-0) and No. 24 California (10-3, 1-1) represent another true test which will continue to help define the team ASU will be this season.
Friday’s game against the Cardinal will tipoff at 7 p.m. It can be watched on the Pac-12 Network and heard on NBC Sports Radio AM 1060.
Coming off a road sweep in the Rocky Mountains, what exactly is ASU inviting into their home?
Currently just behind No. 5 Oregon in the national rankings but sitting atop the standings in the conference, Stanford brings in a storied and perennially strong program Friday.
They bring with them a six-game winning streak and are coming off their first series with the Southern California schools. They defeated both Baylor and No. 13 Tennessee in that span.
Three of their starters are averaging double digits in points this season. Senior Alanna Smith leads the way with 19.3 points per game. She’s also shooting just under 55% from the field.
Stanford’s only game lost this season was on the road to Gonzaga. Will they fall victim again in Tempe?
The Golden Bears have had a fairly simple schedule up until a few weeks ago. Their first loss? The perennial powerhouse No. 3 UConn on December 22nd. They followed that loss with two more to Harvard and UCLA. They recovered from their losing streak against USC and now will face ASU Sunday after their game against Arizona Friday.
Their leading scorer is also a native to the Valley. Desert Vista grad Kristine Anigwe will return home with 22.1 points per game and 13.9 rebounds per game on her stat sheet. The senior forward will play likely her final collegiate game in Arizona this weekend.
With her high rebound average, ASU will have to contest well if they look to keep their high rebounding advantage. They have only been out-rebounded in one game this year against Baylor.
This weekend may be the toughest that ASU has had to date; with one road trip to Northern California, and two separate meetings with the Oregon schools on the horizon. The time is now for the Devils to define their season, and in front of a home crowd that has yet to see their Devils lose at Wells Fargo Arena.