(Photo: Nicole Hernandez/WCSN)
The madness begins for the Arizona State women’s basketball team as they take on the Michigan State Spartans in the first round of the NCAA tournament following the Sun Devils’ loss in the second round of the Pac-12 tournament.
Arizona State struggled at the end of the regular season as they lost six of their last ten games. In the Pac-12 tournament, ASU beat Utah 72-54 but then lost 68-77 in the next round against No. 15 UCLA.
Michigan State was 21-11 overall this season. The Spartans were only 9-7 in Big Ten Conference play where they finished fifth. Michigan State beat Wisconsin and Michigan before losing to the eventual Big Ten Conference Tournament champions, No. 4 Maryland.
The Spartans have a lot of experience against AP Top-25 teams this season but they are 1-5 against these top teams. Michigan State dominated No. 11 ranked Ohio State but lost to No. 2 Notre Dame by 18, No. 4 Maryland by double digits twice, and No. 21 Syracuse by 11. Michigan State also lost to the Oregon Ducks 88-55, while ASU beat Oregon 68-63 in the regular season.
Michigan State is lead by senior guard Tori Jankoska who averages a team high of 22.5 points and 8 rebounds a game. The team scores nearly 74 points a game while holding their opponents to nearly 67 points a game.
Arizona State will need to force a lot of turnovers and take care of work on the glass. Michigan State has a good rebounding game; on average, the Spartans out-rebounded their opponents by 5 and got nearly 41 rebounds a game.
ASU is the favorite as the 8 seed while Michigan State is the 9 seed. The winner of this game will go on to play the winner of the 1 South Carolina v. 16 UNC Asheville game. While the Sun Devils are the higher seed, it appears that the Spartans may have the advantage in the neutral court game. ASU is 2-2 neutral sites while Michigan State is 4-1.
The Arizona State Sun Devils and the Michigan State Spartans will face off Friday with tip off at 4:30 p.m. PST at the Colonial Life Arena. The game will be available on ESPN2.