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Advance Scouting: Arizona State

Ponds, Red Storm look to play their way in and avenge last season’s loss to the Devils

NCAA Basketball: St. John at Arizona State Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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St. Johns and Arizona State have similar paths to the tournament. Both had extremely good nonconference schedule records, with Arizona State having a better strength of schedule. However, down the stretch in conference the teams struggled while having impressive wins. St. John’s beat Marquette twice and Villanova. Arizona State has wins over Kansas and Washington.

Arizona State started out with a ton of hype. Coming from literally nowhere last season, rattling off wins versus Kansas and starting nonconference in an explosive fashion, the team successfully went to the tournament. They would fizzle out against Syracuse.

This season, Arizona State brought in hometown hero Zylan Cheatham, added talented recruits Taeshon Cherry, Luguentz Dort and Elias Valtonen. From there, the hype skyrocketed. Wins against Mississippi State, Utah State and Kansas. Conference play was marred with inconsistency. High points such as a win over Washington, a sweep of Arizona, and lows such as losses to Washington State and Stanford.

Their backcourt has similar star-power to that of the Red Storm. Remy Martin and Dort have been nothing short of a highlight reel. Remy Martin is the primary floor general, and is a solid shooter from deep. Dort is a more of a pure power Marcus Smart. While his percents from 3 are terrible for a guard (31.5%), he can get hot extremely quickly. Rob Edwards is a nice combo guard, although quiet he has the ability to score efficiently and can hang with opposing star players. Kimani Lawrence is the pure shooter of this team. A killer from the corners with the ability to spot up from mid-range. The Frontcourt is where the Sun Devils have the advantage. Romello White is that big, low post presence and a capable rebounder. De’Quon Lake is a solid rim protector and glass cleaner. Finally, there’s Cheatham. Cheatham is the heart and soul of this team, and it shows on the court. High energy, fantastic speed for a big. He has the ability to bring the ball up the court and run the offense at 6’9”. He’s another solid defender, an incredible athlete and a good enough playmaker to where if he gets going, he will have another double-double.

The Sun Devils run two offensive sets. A high-low concept where both big men try to post up and work off one another, guards are spaced out. The other concepts run is a high ball screen at the three point line, or a series of hand-offs between guards to try and create a mismatch. The second style of play as a Arizona State Student is infuriating.

The question remains: Can St. John’s hold their own and win in Dayton. They certainly have a good shot at it. Shamorie Ponds is better than Remy Martin, and the only reason it can be close is because Martin is a better athlete and hounds guys for 94 feet. Ponds is a better scorer and shooter. Justin Simon will probably be tasked with guarding Dort, which may give Dort a lot of trouble. Marvin Clark II needs to stay out of foul trouble. But it ultimately will come down to the first possession for each team.

The first possession for both of these momentum teams, If either team fails to make that first bucket, it will probably be a grind-it-out type game. If not, it could be a blowout either way or a shootout.