Arizona State (20-9) is currently on the March Madness bubble, but can almost guarantee themselves an at-large bid with a victory against rival Arizona (17-13) this weekend.
Arizona State started the season 8-1, but have gone 12-8 since then during an erratic season that included a couple of huge wins coupled with embarrassing losses.
If Arizona State advances to March Madness, they are projected to have a seed as high as #6 or as low as #12 with a possible play-in game. Bobby Hurley’s team will be happy to get into the tournament no matter what seed the selection committee bestows upon them. The Sun Devils had an up and down season, but have one more game to prove to the powers that be that they are truly worthy of a ticket to the big dance.
Arizona State is led by freshman guard Luguentz Dort from Montreal, Canada. He averages 16.2 points per game, but only his 30.6 percent of his three-pointers.
Arizona State Bubble
If you want to make an argument for Arizona State’s inclusion into March Madness, then you can look at their four biggest victories of the season. Bobby Hurley’s squad beat Kansas (22-7), Mississippi State (21-9), Utah State (25-6), and Washington (23-6).
The problem with Arizona State is that they play in a weak conference this season. Plus, they have inexplicable losses to Princeton and Washington State (11-18) in a blowout on their own court in Tempe. That also doesn’t include losses to Pac-12 teams they should have beat including Stanford, Colorado, Oregon, and USC.
Arizona State also has one of the worst defenses in the country. They will have to put up 80 plus to beat teams because their defense allows nearly 78 points per game.
The rival game this weekend in Tucson against Arizona will determine the postseason journey for Arizona State. If they beat Arizona at Arizona, it should give them enough of a boost to earn an at-large bid. Arizona State won their first meeting on the season by seven points at home.
Otherwise, they will have to run the table in the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas next weekend. At the least, the Sun Devils head into the Pac-12 tournament with an opening round bye.
Pac-12 Woes, ASU Baggage
The Pac-12 is not what it used to be in both football and basketball. If Arizona State does not advance to March Madness, only one team from the Pac-12 will earn a bid for the first time since its inception in the expanded format.
The Pac-12 lacks depth across the board. Washington is the best in the league and they’re suspect. Arizona State is the second-best in the Pac-12 and they are a lowly bubble team. The Mountain West is a stronger conference this year with Nevada flirting in the Top 10 most of this season. Plus, it’s impossible to beat Utah State in Logan. Those tough road games were once part of the lore of Pac-12 teams. In the last couple of seasons, Nevada and Utah State developed a fierce rivalry, but both teams are locks to make it to March Madness.
Over in the Big East, there are at least four teams in contention with a couple of bubble teams like St. John’s. Meanwhile, the Big Ten, ACC, SEC, and Big 12 will be sending as many as eight teams this year. The ACC currently has three teams in the Top 5 with Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina. The SEC is dominating this season with three teams in the Top 10 including Tennessee, Kentucky, and LSU.
Meanwhile, over in the Ohio Valley Conference, Murray State will need some help if Ja Morant wants to get a chance at playing in March Madness. Belmont is the team to beat right night in the OVC.