Daily Word: House of the Rising Sun (Devils)?
Every weekday, Andy Katz leads a panel of our college hoops experts in a discussion of the biggest issues, trends and themes happening in and around college basketball.
1. Will Arizona State center Jordan Bachynski -- the Pac-12's career blocks leader -- disrupt Arizona's post players?
Andy Katz: Bachynski won't be the issue for Arizona. The question will be how the Wildcats defend Jahii Carson and Jermaine Marshall. If the Sun Devils' guards can beat Nick Johnson and T.J. McConnell off the dribble, the Sun Devils have a chance to win. Bachynski has to be the last line of defense for ASU, but he may have trouble getting free with Kaleb Tarczewski and Aaron Gordon bottling him up in the post.
Dana O'Neil: Bachynski could very well give the Wildcats trouble, but not just with their post players -- it could stop the guards from driving to the rim, too. Arizona isn't a big 3-point shooting team or a very good one. The Wildcats like to score inside and Bachynski will make that tougher.
C.L. Brown: Bachynski didn't seem to be much of a factor in the first meeting, despite his three blocked shots. Arizona outscored the Sun Devils 38-18 in the paint and that included most of Gordon's 16 points. The key for Arizona State does point to defense after allowing the Wildcats to shoot 55 percent in their 91-68 victory on Jan. 16 in Tucson.
2. Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said he doesn't consider his team elite. Is he right? What's his motive?
Katz: He's right. The Cardinals are not elite and haven't proved it yet this season. Louisville has more opportunities on the road, especially at Cincinnati. The Cardinals are depleted inside, and that won't change, but their guard play is still strong enough to carry them to the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.
O'Neil: Yes, he's right, but it's also a bit of gamesmanship. This Louisville team isn't last season's. The Cats miss Gorgui Dieng and Peyton Siva and lack the consistency that team had. That said, we've all seen less than "elite" teams make it rather deep in the NCAA tournament thanks to motivation or one hot player (think Kemba Walker). Pitino is the master motivator and don't think his Cards aren't anxious to prove him wrong.
Brown: Pitino is correct with home losses to Memphis and Cincinnati as proof. It's not that he has lost confidence, his statement is serving another purpose, too. He wants to ensure that the Cards play like a blue-collar team. That means relying on each other more both offensively and defensively.
3. Which team do you have on upset watch this weekend?
Katz: Texas. The last West Virginia team the Longhorns played wasn't the same as it is at this point in the season. West Virginia has been soaring of late and with Jonathan Holmes hobbled, the Longhorns could have an issue -- even at home. The Mountaineers have one of the top players in the league in Juwan Staten and are more than capable of pulling off the upset Saturday.
O'Neil: Wichita State. The Shockers have been looking a little more vulnerable in the past week or two and now they head to Evansville, the team that beat them twice last season. The Aces are nowhere near as good as Wichita State but I think if Wichita is going to lose it's going to be in unexpected fashion. Not convinced it will happen, but I think it's a possibility.
Brown: Saint Louis. I'm going with the more-desperate-team theory here. VCU enters this game coming off a strong win against George Washington and knows that to have any chance of an A-10 title, it has to win this game. It is the first of two meetings between the teams, but a victory by the Billikens would give them a three-game lead over the second-place Rams.
Games To Watch
The Wildcats are 2-0 in the post-Brandon Ashley era and had little trouble with their in-state rivals last month at the McKale Center. Arizona State, meanwhile, has won five of its last six games.
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