Five Things to Know: Arizona State, MSU women's basketball's first round foe
The MSU women’s basketball team is dancing for the 16th time in program history and the second straight season. Just one of four Big Ten teams to qualify for the Big Dance, the Spartans embark on their journey back to the Final Four, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished since 2005.
Before the game, here are five keys to know of Arizona State before the March 17 duel.
1. Senior leadership
The two players to average in the double digits for the Sun Devils — forwards Sophie Brunner and Quinn Dornstauder — are both seniors. Brunner was a First Team All-Pac 12 selection for her contributions this season. Including last year’s Arizona State team, which was Co-Pac-12 champions, the Sun Devils returned three starters. Including with the duo, the Sun Devils have four seniors on their roster.
2. Defense and boards
On the defensive side of the ball, the Sun Devils excel, allowing just 57.3 points per game to their opponents. Crashing the glass, Arizona State also features a strong effort. Ranked No. 21 in the nation, the Sun Devils collect rebounds at a rate of a +7.3 rebounding margin.
3. Common foes
The Sun Devils and Spartans share two opponents from their time playing in the regular season — Maryland and Oregon. Against the Terrapins, the Spartans faltered in both efforts to dethrone the Big Ten powerhouse. Arizona State held a similar effort, losing 83-42 Nov. 25 to Maryland.
The story changes between Oregon for the teams, however. MSU was blown out by the Ducks on Nov. 22, 88-55, where the Spartans traveled cross-country for the trip. The Sun Devils succeeded in their effort and defeated the Ducks, 68-63, on Feb. 5 at home.
4. Youth movement
Despite the veteran presence of the team, the Sun Devils feature five freshmen on their roster. Of the five, Reili Richardson and Robbi Ryan lead the newcomers and have made their impact. Richardson and Ryan are third and fourth in scoring average among the team, respectively.
5. How they’ve played
The Sun Devils finished No. 5 in the Pac-12 with a conference record of 9-9. Last time out in the Pac-12 Tournament, the Sun Devils fell to a No. 4-seeded UCLA, 77-68. On a neutral court where the teams square off, Arizona State has gone 2-2. MSU, on the other hand, earned a 3-1 record in such instances.