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First Four Preview: Nevada Wolf Pack vs. Arizona State Sun Devils

A first look at the play-in teams battling to face the Horned Frogs in the Round of 64

Nevada v New Mexico
Jarod Lucas & the Nevada Wolf Pack will play Arizona State in the First Four game on Wednesday
Photo by Sam Wasson/Getty Images

The Horned Frogs will have to wait a few days to learn its First Round March Madness opponent. When the NCAA Tournament bracket was revealed on Sunday, TCU was slotted as a 6-seed in the West Region, with its first contest being the very last game of the Round of 64, Friday March 17th at 9:05 PM in Denver, CO and broadcast on truTV. The Frogs’ opponent will already have a Tournament win under its belt, needing to navigate through a play-in game for entry into the Round of 64. The Arizona State Sun Devils and Nevada Wolf Pack were name two of the Last Four In at-large teams headed to Dayton, OH to determine who will earn the 11-seed. Which team will match up with TCU and advance out of the First Four? A brief Tale of the Tape review of the two teams:


  • Conference: PAC 12
  • Conference Tournament: 6-seed, W vs. Oregon State; W vs. USC; L vs. Arizona
  • Overall Record: 22-12
  • NET Ranking: 66
  • Strength of Schedule: 55
  • KenPom Ranking: 68
  • Quadrant 1 Record: 5-6
  • Best Win: at Arizona Wildcats
  • Worst Loss: at Texas Southern
  • Leading Scorer: Guard Desmond Cambridge Jr.: 13.7 PPG
  • Leading Rebounder: Forward Warren Washington: 6.9 RPG
  • Assist Leader: Guard Frankie Collins: 4.4 APG
  • Team Shooting: 2P%: 47.9% (271st); 3P%: 31.4% (312th); FT%: 68.9% (288th)
  • Team Shooting Defense: 2P%: 43.8% (6th); 3P%: 33.6% (149th)

ASU needed a solid run to in the Pac 12 Tourney to reach the big dance, and did just enough to get to the First Four, running into rival Arizona in the Semifinals. The Sun Devils gave itself a chance to make the Tournament by taking down those Wildcats in Tucson with a half court buzzer beater from Nevada transfer Desmond Cambridge. ASU also earned wins over Tournament-bound teams Creighton, USC, and VCU. Bobby Hurley has built a defensive juggernaut in the desert, ranking Top-30 in KenPom defensive efficiency, while allowing the one of the lowest percentage made 2-point field goals, aided by a top-20 Block % with Warren Washington averaging almost two blocks per game. Unfortunately, the Sun Devils also sport \one of the worst offenses in the entire Tournament, at 133rd in offensive efficiency at KenPom and sub-250 in each shooting percentage category.

Nevada Wolf Pack

  • Conference: Mountain West
  • Conference Tournament: 4-seed, L vs. San Jose State
  • Overall Record: 22-10
  • NET Ranking: 37
  • Strength of Schedule: 71
  • KenPom Ranking: 43
  • Quadrant 1 Record: 4-5
  • Best Win: vs. San Diego State
  • Worst Loss: at Wyoming
  • Leading Scorer: Guard Jared Lucas: 17.3 PPG
  • Leading Rebounder: Forward Darrion Williams: 7.3 RPG
  • Assist Leader: Guard Kenan Blackshear: 4.6 APG
  • Team Shooting: 2P%: 50.3% (187th); 3P%: 33.8 (181st); FT%: 79.2% (5th)
  • Team Shooting Defense: 2P%: 49.3% (147th); 3P%: 32.5% (88th)

The Mountain West sent four teams to the NCAA Tournament, with Nevada sneaking in on its strong NET and predictive metrics, if perhaps despite its lackluster resume. The Wolf Pack did earn home wins over the other three MWC Tourney teams (San Diego State, Utah State, Boise State) and WAC Champions Grand Canyon. Nevada is stumbling into the Big Dance, having lost its last three games, all to sub-90 NET teams. Steve Alford’s squad earns free throws at a high rate and converts from the charity stripe at an elite level, in the top-5 nationally in FT%. The Wolf Pack protect the ball when in possession, with one of the lowest turnover rates in the Tournament, but rarely recover their own misses, ranking bottom 30 nationally in offensive rebound rate

The Nevada-ASU play-in battle will take place in Dayton, OH on Wednesday March 15 at 8:10 PM Central, broadcast on truTV. The game should be a great close contest, Arizona State is a 2-point favorite at Draftkings Sportsbook, with a point total of 134. Tune in to get a first look at the Horned Frogs opponent in the opening round.