Arizona State will likely be the only team sweating on Selection Sunday when the 68 teams in the field for the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament are announced.
The Sun Devils are part of a highly-competetive conference that according to ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan, should see at five teams in as locks to enter the big dance. Oregon won the Pac-12 tournament with a convincing win over injury-hobbled UCLA and the Bruins, Arizona, Colorado, and Cal are each almost assured to be punching their tickets based on ranking.
But the Sun Devils’ resume is one worth examining prior to the committee’s selections being announced. They’re a long shot, but at 21-12 and 9-9 in conference, they have enough quality wins to be considered in the conversation. If they could have managed to defeat UCLA in the Pac-12 Tournament earlier in the week, then their chances would have been exponentially greater, but they fell just short after having the Bruins on the ropes.
ASU was only 6-8 against the top-100, and their strength of schedule is ranked No. 114. Those aren’t ideal numbers for a team trying to get into the top-68.
So why even consider ASU? They beat UCLA on Jan. 26 and played them tough in Westwood but fell in overtime on Feb. 27 in two regular season matchups. They defeated Cal on Feb. 7, so they’ve shown they can play with anyone. The computers won’t like the numbers, but the committee may like what they saw in those key games.
It’s unlikely that they’ll make it in because the numbers are against them, but this would be an exciting team to watch come tournament time, especially behind the strong play of freshman sensation Jahii Carson.