West Region First Four: #11 Nevada vs #11 Arizona State (3/15 @ 9:10 PM EST)
Spread: ASU -2
Moneyline: Nevada +113 / ASU -132
Overview and Betting Info
The Nevada Wolf Pack (22-10) will take on the Arizona State Sun Devils (22-12) on Wednesday in the NCAA Tournament’s West Region First Four Game. The Wolf Pack finished fourth in the Mountain West while the Devils finished fifth in the Pac-12. These teams have not met this season.
Nevada is 18-11-2 against the spread but have failed to cover their last three games. They have gone over the total 18 times but have been under in four of their last six games.
ASU is 15-19 versus the spread and have failed to cover three of their last five games. They’ve gone over the total 17 times but have been under in three of their last five games.
Nevada Wolf Pack
Nevada had an incredible season, but they ended it by losing their last three games. Two were heartbreakers lost in overtime, but the third was to last place Wyoming. Nevada has played eight games against tournament teams this season and went 4-4 against them. The Wolf Pack offense has been average at best this season, ranking fourth in the Mountain West in scoring (72.6 PPG), seventh in field goal percentage (44.4%), ninth in three-point percentage (34.6%), first in turnovers (10.3 TO/G), and fourth in assists (14.2 APG). Nevada has been better on defense and is fifth in the conference in opponent scoring (66.9 PPG), third in field goal percentage (41.9%), fourth in three-point percentage (32.2%), sixth in rebounds (33.5 RPG), fifth in steals (6.1 SPG), and eighth in blocks (3.1 BPG).
The Wolf Pack have been led by a trio of Jarod Lucas (17.3 PPG), Kenan Blackshear (14.4 PPG, 4.1 RPG, 4.6 APG, 1.5 SPG), and Will Baker (13.5 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 55.8 FG%). Lucas has been on fire over their last three games, averaging 25 points and 1.0 steals. While he made over 51% of his shots in those games, he only made 30% of his threes. Blackshear is another potent scorer and a fantastic defender, but his shooting was awful to close the season. In their last three games, he only makes 28% of his shots from the field. His shot volume allows him to keep his average up, but he must correct that to beat ASU on Wednesday. Baker is a solid rebounder and has been a reliable scorer over the last two months, but he also went ice cold to finish the season. He scored just one point in their Mountain West Tournament loss and was held to eight points and five turnovers the game before against UNLV. Baker will play a huge role against the Devil’s size and physical play, so Nevada will need him to recapture his offensive success.
Nevada’s top stars are joined by Darrion Williams (7.5 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.5 SPG) and Tre Coleman (6.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.0 BPG). Williams has been the team’s best rebounder and is a solid defender. His offense has been bad, as he only makes 40.8% of his shots on the season and has shot under 30% in two of his last three games. Coleman is a streaky scorer but does a good job limiting his shots during an off night. He is one of the best all-around defenders in the conference and had three blocks in his last game. Watch out for Nick Davidson (7.1 PPG, 4.1 RPG), a solid freshman forward who has been filling in for KJ Hymes. He is making 45.3% of his shots and is coming off a great showing against San Jose State, where he had 13 points, eight rebounds, a block, and a steal.
Arizona State Sun Devils
The Devils’ March Madness bid was up in the air as the season ended, but they were able to punch their ticket after a big win against USC in the Pac-12 Tournament. After starting the season 11-1, the Devils struggled in conference play with bad losses to non-tournament teams. Still, they have impressive wins at Arizona and against Creighton on a neutral court. The Sun Devil offense has left much to be desired, ranking sixth in the Pac-12 in scoring (70.3 PPG), tenth in field goal percentage (41.3%), tenth in three-point percentage (31.4%), twelfth in free throw percentage (68.9%), fourth in assists (14.2). They take care of the ball, resulting in the second-fewest turnovers in the Pac-12 (11.8 TO/G). The ASU defense has been fantastic despite ranking eighth in the conference in opponent scoring (67.7 PPG). They are third in field goal percentage (39.8%), ninth in three-point percentage (33.6%), fifth in rebounds (36.9 RPG), third in steals (7.3 SPG), and fourth in blocks (4.7 BPG).
ASU has been led this season by Desmond Cambridge Jr (13.7 PPG, 1.8 SPG) and DJ Horne (12.1 PPG, 3.4 SPG, 1.2 SPG). Cambridge is the team’s most dangerous offensive player and top three-point shooter, with the team winning and losing most games based on his play. He is among the best defenders in the Pac-12, ranking third with 1.8 per game. Des had a solid season, but his shooting became an issue at the end of the season, making just 31% of his shots over his last five games. Horne is another solid shooter who can be deadly from three and is also a great defender. He and Cambridge take the vast majority of the shots for the Devils and will play a significant role against the Nevada guards on Wednesday.
The Devils have a trio of support players behind their top two stars in Frankie Collins (9.9 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.4 SPG), Devan Cambridge (9.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 50.0 FG%), and Warren Washington (9.2 PPG, 6.9 RPG 1.7 BPG). Collins has been great as this team’s point guard, contributing in every major category. He is a great defender who can score in bunches when Horne and Des are off. He plays bigger than his size and brings experience from his run to the Sweet 16 with Michigan last season. Devan Cambridge is Des’s brother and one of the best big men on the team. He is a great rebounder, but his offensive game can disappear. The Devils rely on him, as shown by their 14-1 record when Cambridge has more than nine points. Washington is another solid big man that is third in the Pac-12 in blocks. He played his best basketball to end the season, averaging 11.5 points.
Free Pick: ASU -2.5
We like the Devils to handle Nevada on Wednesday for two reasons. The first is the recent play of both teams. Nevada had an imposing win at home against San Diego State to end January, but they have not impressed since. They beat many average and bad teams, lost to Utah State, and have now lost their last three games. Those previous three losses came to Wyoming, UNLV, and San Jose State. ASU hasn’t exactly dazzled, but they won two of their last three games, with the lone loss coming to Arizona.
The second reason is the play of Nevada down low. To beat ASU, you need to shut them down on the inside and force Horne and Des to chuck up threes. In their last three games, Nevada has allowed opposing big men to have career games. They allowed Wyoming’s Jeremiah Oden (9.6 PPG) to score 28, San Jose’s Sage Tolbert (8.1 PPG) to score 20, and UNLV’s David Muoka (4.7 RPG) to grab a season-high 13 rebounds. That will be a massive problem against Cambridge and Washington, and we think that will give the Devils the win.
We’re giving up the points to dance with the Devils on Wednesday.