College Basketball Odds, Picks and Predictions for Colorado vs. Arizona State: Offenses Could Heat Up In Tempe (Saturday, Jan. 15)

College Basketball Odds, Picks and Predictions for Colorado vs. Arizona State: Offenses Could Heat Up In Tempe (Saturday, Jan. 15) article feature image

Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: DJ Horne.

  • Saturday night features some Pac-12 After Dark action as the Colorado Buffaloes prepare to face the Arizona State Sun Devils.
  • It's been a rough season for the Sun Devils, who sit at just 5-8 overall and 1-2 in Pac-12 play.
  • Check out Jim Root's full betting guide with a pick below.

Colorado vs. Arizona State Odds

Saturday, Jan. 15
10 p.m. ET
Colorado Odds
-110o / -110u
Arizona State Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute college basketball odds here.

If you had forgotten about Arizona State basketball this year, it would be difficult to blame you. The Sun Devils have taken the court just once since December 19 due to COVID issues in the program. Even in an Omicron-addled world, that qualifies as an extended absence from the hoops world.

That break has cast the usual lineup shroud over this game. Marcus Bagley is still out, active big man Jalen Graham is doubtful, and other surprise scratches are always a risk. Even Coach Bobby Hurley had the virus and was away from the team for 10 days, per The Athletic’s Doug Haller.

Colorado, meanwhile, has started to play rather well after a slow start to the season. The Buffs swept the Washington schools last weekend and played Arizona to a near-stalemate for a half in Tucson before wearing down late.

Colorado Buffaloes

The Buffaloes go as their talented frontcourt goes. Evan Battey and Jabari Walker are a terrifying twosome, as both can score inside or out while also manufacturing points via the offensive glass. Walker’s perimeter stroke has not been there this season, but he hit 52.3% from deep in 2020-21 – be wary of regression.

Recently, Tristan da Silva has made that a trio. The 6-10 forward has some wing skills, and as he continues to realize his potential, he will be a matchup nightmare on most nights.

The key to Colorado’s season is in the backcourt. The battle for fourth in the Pac-12 is wide open, and Colorado could be that team if guards like Keeshawn Barthelemy, KJ Simpson and Elijah Parquet rise to the occasion. Simpson, a true freshman, is coming off his best game after burning Arizona for 17 points in 29 minutes.

A subtle but important note: Since returning from a long Christmas break and COVID pause, Colorado has hit the gas. Through its first 12 games, the Buffaloes had played one regulation game over 70 possessions. In three Pac-12 games since, the possession counts have been 75, 73, 75.

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Arizona State Sun Devils

I mentioned that ASU has not played in quite a while. Well, you may have also let the Sun Devils fade from your memory due to the 5-8 overall record. Granted, they have played a gauntlet of a schedule, but sub-.500 simply will not cut it.

Bobby ******* Hurley has embraced a more defensive identity this season, but unfortunately that has come at the expense of any offensive fluidity whatsoever. This is by far his worst attack in seven years in Tempe, with KenPom’s Adjusted Defensive Efficiency slotting ASU 195th nationally (previous low: 108th).

Marcus Bagley’s injury certainly has not helped. The versatile, smooth-shooting forward has not played since getting hurt on November 15, and his return still has no timetable. He would provide the jolt this team needs – he racked up 15 PPG in ASU’s first two contests – but the Sun Devils likely cannot expect him back soon.

More responsibility has fallen to transfer guards Jay Heath, Marreon Jackson, and DJ Horne, and only Horne has played with any semblance of efficiency. Heath is shooting just 35.0% from the floor and has more turnovers than assists. Even worse, Jackson – the former MAC Player of the Year at Toledo – is as at an appalling 25.9% from the field (20.0% from deep). Without better production from those imports, the Sun Devil offense will remain decidedly ice cold.

Colorado vs. Arizona State Betting Pick

Graham’s likely absence is incredibly significant. He’s a terrific defender and a tone-setter, and without him, Battey and Walker could both have big games.

Arizona State’s offense is nothing to write home about, but Hurley may let his team get out and run post-pause. Plus, the Sun Devils are unquestionably due for some shooting regression. Ideally, the pause will have allowed them to reset and rediscover their confidence.

The other vital information point is that Colorado pace spike. Perhaps it’s largely opponent-based – both Washington and Arizona love to run – but a small increase in pace can have a large effect on the total.

Both of these teams have trended more towards Unders this season, but I like this spot for a reversal of fortune.

Pick: Over 132.5 (Play to 136)

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