Arizona State is in control of the Territorial Cup Series for another year. The Sun Devils wrapped up their third straight title when their men’s golf team (3rd) bested UA (10th) last weekend at the Pac-12 Championships in Salt Lake City.
So what has happened in this series that the Wildcats owned the first three years of its existence.
One can look at several shifts that have transpired to tilt the series in favor of Arizona State.
The sport that led to the disputed year is clearly at the center of the shift. Men’s Indoor Track and Field was not counted in the first three years of the series.
Presumably to give the series an even number of sports (18) over which to wage the competition.
2012-13 was the closest of those competitions. The Wildcats under the initial rules (excluding Men’s Indoor Track and Field) won by a slim margin (9.5-8.5).
However Arizona State chose to count their triumph over the Wildcats that year in the sport thus forging a tie (9.5-9.5) that was subsequently broken in their favor due to a higher standing in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup, which is used to award a winner in the event of a tie.
After the disputed year it was agreed that Men’s Indoor Track and Field would be counted as the 19th sport in the competition.
Probably not a good thing for Arizona because the Wildcat men have not won that point in the four years since it was instituted and to make matters worse, UA’s Women’s Indoor Track and Field team has lost the point the last four years after winning it the first three.
That three-point shift alone is a large reason for ASU’s dominance, in fact the Sun Devils have edged UA in recent years across the board in the running sports.
Men’s Cross Country has been one of ASU’s most dominant sports (6-1) and they’ve picked up the Women’s Cross Country point as well in the last two seasons.
The Sun Devils have taken the Women’s Outdoor Track points in 2014 and 2015 with this year’s point still to be decided.
The last year UA won the Territorial Cup Series was 2011-12, and they did so by a comfortable seven-point margin.
Among other sports that have shifted since that year, Men’s Golf.
Arizona State has won the Men’s Golf point the last four years.
Sand or Beach Volleyball was added in 2013-14 as the 20th sport in the series and although ASU won the inaugural point, UA has emerged as the front-runner the last two years.
In the two major revenue sports, Football and Men’s Basketball, it’s a split right now.
Arizona State holds the slight edge in the football series (4-3) while Arizona has never lost the point in Men’s Basketball (3-0-4).
Men’s Basketball along with Women’s Basketball and Volleyball are among the sports where the point can be annually split.
Those teams generally face each other twice a year during the regular season. Although those points in some years could be determined by any additional meetings in the post-season as the Territorial Cup point is ultimately decided in those sports by all head-to-head meetings within the athletic year.
There was also one year (2011-12) where the gymnastics teams met twice and split the point.
Like Men’s Basketball, UA has never lost the point in Women’s Volleyball (3-0-4) and Men’s (7-0) and Women’s Swimming (7-0).
The Swimming shutouts are the only two in the series where one side has swept all seven points.
UA Women’s Golf (6-1) has also controlled their series with the Sun Devils although that one loss came in somewhat of a surprising upset this spring when the Sun Devils (3rd place) finished five shots ahead of the Wildcats (4th place) at the Pac-12 Championships.
ASU’s lone shutout remains in Women’s Basketball (5-0-2) however the Cats did manage to split that point twice under Niya Butts.
Overall the Wildcats hold a slim all-time lead over the Sun Devils in total points (61-58-11) with still three sports left to be decided for the 2015-16 athletics year.
A 21st sport in the competition appears to be on the horizon as ASU Athletics announced on Wednesday that the department plans to reinstate Men's Tennis, a sport it dropped in 2008.
The final points in this year’s series will be awarded the weekend of May 13-15 when the baseball teams’ play their Pac-12 three-game series in Tucson.
Each side has earned a win in the two nonconference games played in Phoenix.
The Pac-12 Track and Field Championships will also be held that weekend in Seattle, Washington and will determined the points in that sport on both the women’s and men’s sides.
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