No. 6 Arizona State Sun Devils (24-9) -5.5 vs. No. 11 Temple Owls (22-11) +5.5
Miami, F.L., Friday 2:45PM Eastern
By Jay Horne of Predictem.com
The Arizona State Sun Devils will take their 6 seed and battle with 11th seeded Temple this Friday afternoon in a first round match-up. Arizona State finished 3rd in the Pac-10 during the regular season. The Sun Devils barely missed out on the Pac-10 Tournament Title losing to USC by only 3 points in the Championship game. Temple finished in a 3 way tie for 2nd place in the Atlantic 10 conference. The Owls won the Atlantic 10 Tournament Championship for the second straight year in a row earning the automatic bid to the big dance. Temple closed out their season winning 10 of their last 12 games and they will look for their momentum to stay strong and help them take down the higher seeded Arizona State Sun Devils.
Arizona State has been a streaky team down the latter part of the season. The Sun Devils won 5 games, lost 3, and then rebounding by winning 3 more before losing the Championship game to USC. Arizona State has many aspects of their game that sports impressive numbers. The Sun Devils have shot an impressive 48% as a team from the field this season that ranks inside the top 15 teams across the country. Arizona State also sports some strong numbers on the defensive side of the ball. The Sun Devils sport the 20th best scoring defense in America holding opponents to only 60 points per game. Arizona State has also held opposing teams to a mere 29 rebounds per game on the glass which would be helpful against a solid rebounding team like Temple.
The Owls have averaged 69 points per game on the offensive side of the ball this season while holding opponents to 63 points on the defensive side of the ball. Temple got off to a very sluggish start earlier in the year losing 6 of their first 11 games on the season. However, as the season progressed the Owls appeared to keep improving. Their improvement became very apparent when they came out of the Atlantic 10 Tournament as Champions from the number 4 seed. Temple earned an NCAA bid last season as well, but was knocked off by Michigan State in the opening round. The Owls will try to avoid a first round loss this season by getting the best of the Sun Devils on Friday.
The betting line has the action favoring the no. 6 seed Arizona State Sun Devils by 5.5 points over the Temple Owls. The over/under total for the contest has been posted at the 123.5 mark and has held steady throughout the week.
The Temple Owls will look for one of the Atlantic 10 premier standouts to lead the mild upset effort. Senior guard Dionte Christmas has led the Temple offense this season scoring 19 points per game. Christmas also scored 29 points in the conference title game giving the Owls a big boost that propelled them to their second straight Atlantic 10 Championship. Supporting Christmas will be sophomore forward Lavoy Allen. Allen is just averaging inside the double figures mark, but also has been responsible for 9 rebounds per game as well. Rebounding is always important in basketball especially in out of conference games where there seems to be a bit less scoring.
Arizona State will turn to their young sophomore guard who has been outstanding this season. James Harden leads the Sun Devils scoring attack with 20.8 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assist per game this season. Harden has scored 20 or more points in 5 of his last 6 games and could be a difference maker this Friday. Jeff Pendergraph will be the man meeting Lavoy Allen to battle inside the paint. Pendergraph has averaged nearly 15 points per game with 9 rebounds this season. If Arizona could regain the advantage against the glass, their superior shooting could make it nearly impossible for them to be beat.
Temple is 5-0 SU and 5-0 ATS in their last 5 outings. The Owls have also reached the under total in 4 of those last 5 games as well. Arizona State is 8-4 ATS in their last 12 games while reaching the over in 4 of their last 5 games.
Pick - Arizona State -5.5.