Bubble Watch: 5 Reasons Why Arizona State Won’t Make the Big Dance
5 Reasons Why Arizona State Won't Make The Tournament
The Arizona State Sun Devils' NCAA tournament hopes are slowly dwindling away after an impressive win against a top-five team. The Sun Devils have dropped two straight games after beating then No. 4 Arizona at home in double overtime, and unless the Sun Devils can turn it around quickly, the Arizona win will be irrelevant to the selection committee.
Not since the days of James Harden and Jeff Pendergraph have the Sun Devils reached the NCAA tournament. In 2008-09, the Sun Devils made it to the round of 32, ultimately losing to Syracuse. In coach Herb Sendek's eight years at Arizona State, this is the only time the Sun Devils have made the tournament under his watch. A failure to make the tournament this year will likely cost him his job at season's end.
After starting 11-2 in non-conference play, the Sun Devils have gone 8-6 since. Although the Sun Devils have not lost more than two consecutive games all season, the losses that the Sun Devils have are severely hurting their tournament resume.
The Sun Devils will have to get on a roll fast in the remaining regular season games, and a good stretch in the Pac-12 Tournament will also help them reach the tournament. If Arizona State continues to free fall, none of this discussion will matter and the Sun Devils will be watching the tournament.
Here are the five reasons why Arizona State won't be in the NCAA tournament in March.
4. Zero Impressive Road Wins
The Sun Devils only have four road wins on their resume this season. The caliber of opponents they have defeated on the road isn't among the cream of the crop. Wins against UNLV, DePaul, USC and California don't cut the bill when it comes to impressive road wins. The Sun Devils suffer significantly when they play on the road versus at home.
3. The Victory Over Arizona Isn't Impressive
At the time, a home victory over No. 4 Arizona looked impressive on paper. This is not an indictment on what Arizona State did that night, but it is all about Arizona's struggles since that game. Even without star forward Brandon Ashley, it took the Sun Devils two overtimes to beat the Wildcats (even with a non-technical in the final seconds of the game). The Wildcats are not the same team without Ashley, and this only hurts Arizona State instead of helping them.
2. Three Poor Losses
Sometimes, poor losses trump good wins for prospective bubble teams. This holds true for the Sun Devils as a poor loss at home to Washington, a lackluster effort on the road against Utah and a neutral court loss to Miami unfortunately trumps the Sun Devils' good wins over Colorado and Arizona.
1. Lost Momentum After Beating Arizona
After beating Arizona in a thrilling two-overtime game, it would be normal to expect that this win would give the Sun Devils some momentum heading into the final regular season stretch. In reality, the opposite has occurred. In consecutive road games, the Sun Devils have lost to Colorado and were blown out by Utah. The Sun Devils are living proof that teams can play their way out of the tournament picture.