(Photo: Brooke Faber/WCSN)
Arizona State takes their home floor for their first contest of the 2015 NCAA tournament this Saturday against the Ohio Bobcats.
With the conference tournaments, automatic bids, and dramatic selection show all done with and put to bed, its time to get to what makes this time of the year so awesome.
The journey for the Arizona State Sun Devils kicks off right where it originally began. Which is right on their home floor at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Sun Devils earned the right to host a first round regional after being awarded a three seed in the tournament following their 27- win season.
ASU is slated to take on the University of Ohio in the first game this Saturday. With the winner of that one taking on the victor of Arkansas- Little Rock and Texas A&M on Monday.
The Bobcats roll into Tempe just a week after being crowned Mid American Conference Champions and punching their ticket to the big dance as a 14 seed.
Ohio compiled an impressive 27-4 record over the course of their regular season and conference tournament. But faced just one team (James Madison) that cracked the AP Top 25 at any point this year.
Their weak strength of schedule played a big part in their low seeding in the tournament. Which could possibly provide them with a “chip on the shoulder” attitude heading into the tournament.
Unlike the Sun Devils, who enter this game just after a loss to Stanford in the Pac-12 tournament, Ohio will walk in to Wells Fargo Arena on a seven game winning streak. A stretch during which they outscored their opponents by nearly 10 points a game while shooting 41% from the field.
The 2015 MAC champs have been led all year by their guards Kiyanna Black and Quiera Lampkins.
Black, a junior, is the team’s leading scorer, netting 16.1 points per game, while shooting 38% from the field. Black also leads the team in steals with 53, heading both the attack and defense for the Bobcats during the regular season.
If Black is to be considered the “Batman” of this team, than Lampkins is her “Robin.” The sophomore trails just Black in points and steals per game for the Bobcats.
Black is more the sharpshooter of the two, taking 271 shots from behind the arc this year and hitting 36% of those shots from deep.
Lampkins makes her money as a slasher by penetrating the painted area and drawing fouls to get to the line. Lampkins leads the team in free throw attempts, using her 5-foot-9 frame to create contact down low.
Black was huge for the Bobcats in the MAC Championship Game last week against Eastern Michigan. She hit eight of her 19 shots, including five three-pointers, on her way to a 25-point, five rebound performance.
Lampkins struggled to score the ball in the conference final, scoring just two points on two free throws. But she still was able to leave her mark on the final score, grabbing eight boards and adding out five dimes.
The key to stopping these two stars on Saturday will be Arizona State’s size, and rim protection ability.
Remember that Ohio has faced what amounts to be a cupcake schedule this season. Meaning they have yet to see elite length and athleticism that a team like ASU brings to the table with players like Quinn Dornstauder and Promise Amukamara.
So the pace of play and overall length of this Arizona State team may provide to be the difference in this Round 1 opener.