Arizona State vs. Syracuse: Matchups, X-factors and keys to the game

Arizona State-Syracuse-Preview-Matchups-Time-NCAA Tournament-First Four

Arizona State barely snuck into the NCAA Tournament and finds itself in a First Four game against Syracuse on Wednesday night in Dayton, Ohio.

The Sun Devils have faced Syracuse twice in the history of the two programs, with both teams grabbing a win. Arizona State beat the Syracuse in 1968, while Syracuse beat the Sun Devils in the 2009 NCAA Tournament. The winner of this third meeting will face No. 6-seed TCU in Detroit, Michigan on Friday. But before we can get there, let’s look at Wednesday’s showdown which will be broadcast on TruTV at 6:15 p.m. PT.


Guard: Tra Holder (ASU) vs. Franklin Howard (Syracuse)

Holder is ASU’s best player and is averaging over 18 points a game this season. Howard is an experienced and talented player in his own right, averaging 15 points per game. Howard is good, but Holder is better.

Guard: Shannon Evans (ASU) vs. Tyus Battle (Syracuse)

Battle is Syracuse’s main offensive threat and could take over this game if he’s on. Evans is another talented guard who is hoping to help slow down Battle.

Guard: Kodi Justice (ASU) vs. Marek Dolezaj (Syracuse)

Justice, a senior, is Arizona State’s third guard option but is an offensive threat. He will have a weird matchup if the ASU coaching staff decides to throw him at a forward though. Dolezaj, a freshman, only averages a little over 5 points a game but will have a height advantage over whomever is guarding him.

Forward: De’Quon Lake (ASU) vs. Oshae Brissett (Syracuse)

Lake doesn’t usually start and may not on Wednesday night, but he provides the best chance, along with Romello White, to slow down Brissett. The 6-foot-8 Brissett, a freshman, is averaging 14.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game this season.

Forward: Romello White (ASU) vs. Paschal Chukwu (Syracuse)

Chukwu is 7-foot-2, while White is 6-foot-8. Arizona State doesn’t have a player with the sort of height to guard Chukwu, who averages 5.4 points and 6.8 rebounds this year. Look for Syracuse to try to force action to Chukwu early.


Tra Holder is the go-to guy for the Sun Devils. If he has a big game, the Sun Devils will likely advance.

In 31 games this season, Holder has averaged 18.5 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.2 assists. He will have the ball in his hands at the end of the game and he will need to make clutch shots.

Against Syracuse’s tough zone defense, Holder has to shoot the ball well and get good penetration.

Keys to the game

Good Guard Play

ASU guards Tra Holder, Shannon Evans, Kodi Justice need to play well in order to take out Syracuse. The zone defense is tough to break, but the Sun Devils have the recipe to do accomplish just that with their guard play.

Holder, Evans and Justice have been the team’s strength all season long. The three guards have accounted for 57 percent of the Sun Devils’ scoring this season. When all three wing players perform well the team is tough to beat.

Limit Turnovers

Syracuse ranks No. 12 in opponents points per game (64.5) but only No. 177 in turnovers forced per game (12.8). If Arizona State allows Syracuse to succeed in turning the ball over, something they haven’t done particularly well this season, the Orange will be at an even bigger advantage defensively. The Sun Devils have averaged only 10.7 turnovers per game (No. 20 in the country),

Trust the Process

Syracuse’s zone defense can and will frustrate teams. Arizona State cannot let Syracuse beat them mentally if things don’t go right early when attacking the zone. Continue to drive the lane, kick out and take good shots. The shots will eventually fall. Arizona State has the talent to beat Syracuse. All they have to do is execute the game plan. Keep it simple.

The post Arizona State vs. Syracuse: Matchups, X-factors and keys to the game appeared first on Diehards.

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