DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - No. 11 seed Arizona State (20-11) vs. The victor will take on No. 6 seed TCU on Friday night in Detroit. Let's not forget, this team was a trendy upset pick past year before they lost to Iowa State in the first round, but they returned junkyard dog Jordan Caroline, and have transfers in Kendall Stephens (Purdue) as well as Cody and Caleb Martin (NC State) and have a path (Texas, and Cincinnati) that could see them in the second weekend. The Orange had a solid resume which included the 14-best non-conference strength of schedule and road wins over Miami and Louisville.
"To ride that rollercoaster, to see us have our struggles and lose close games", Arizona State head basketball coach Bobby Hurley said, "we put ourselves in that position". With Tra Holder, Shannon Evans and Kodi Justice, ASU has the senior star power to win any game this March. Syracuse has lost five of its last eight games, with the three most recent losses all by at least 15 points.
How they falter: Arizona State's lack of a post presence proves costly in the first round, as its opponent gets to the rim at will and outscores the Sun Devils in a shootout. Syracuse was the last team to make the NCAA Tournament after going 10-12 down the stretch.
The lure of the NCAA Tournament is the consistent upsets that we see year in and year out.
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Much is made about Syracuse's defense, but Arizona State will not be fazed by the pressure of the tournament stage in Dayton.
SU wants this game against Arizona State to be played in the 60s. Remy Martin led Arizona State's team in scoring with 20 points, while shooting 50% from the field (making 6 of 12 attempts).
Entering this game, the Sun Devils averaged 14.2 assists per game, which is only eighth best in the Pac-12.
Syracuse, which has made the tournament 33 times in coach Jim Boeheim's 42 seasons, seemed equally as ecstatic.
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"We're a team of many traits, fast paced, we can run and we hard-nosed", Buffalo forward Nick Perkins said after the MAC championship game Saturday. Offensively, the Orange were less than stellar.
Meanwhile, Zach Lofton scores just under 20 points a game. A reserve on the 2016 Final Four team, the 6-foot-5 Howard is averaging 15.0 points and 5.0 assists per game. The Orange have been to the Final Four six times. The team finished the season with a 19-15 SU and 11-4 ATS record. Ranking as high as No. 3 in December, the Sun Devils held on for Hurley's first trip to the Big Dance with the Sun Devils.
Earlier I said that the committee favors mediocre teams in major conferences over good teams in more inferior ones, and Syracuse is the best at being mediocre.
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