The Arizona State Sun Devils have not made the NCAA Tournament since 2009, but by most projections, they are set to do so once again in 2014.
The team is 18-6 with a 7-4 mark in the Pac-12, and though there is still some time left and games to be played, ASU coach Herb Sendek believes his team is good enough to go dancing in March.
"I think we have a team that if we finish the season on the path that we're on right now, could be an NCAA Tournament team," he told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday as part of Newsmakers Week. "Having said that, I can't remember any time in the history of college basketball there was more good teams, and I have no idea, even with the aid of a computer, how you can discern who's in and who's out once you get past the likes of Syracuse and Florida and a few of the just elite teams in the country.
"It is that even."
A look at the rankings would prove Sendek's point, and the fact that there are only two unbeaten teams left -- Syracuse and Wichita State -- shows how difficult getting through the entire schedule can be.
To wit: Perennial powers such as Duke, Kansas, Michigan State, Michigan and Kentucky, along with defending champion Louisville, have already combined for 29 losses, yet all are looked at as teams that could cut down the nets come April.
And it's not just the blue blood schools that make this a challenge.
"You see it across the nation every night," Sendek added. "You see examples like Nebraska loses by 30 to Ohio State, and two weeks later Nebraska beats Ohio State. And so to pick teams, to me, it's always been difficult. Now, it's starting to approach impossible."
The improvement across the country, Sendek says, is due to the traditionally non-basketball schools doing more to try and compete on the hardwood.
"Now we have 350 Division I teams and there's enough talent that it's very widespread," he said. "Everybody's putting resources into it to compete to get to the tournament."
Sixty-eight teams will get in, and right now ASU is on track to be one of them. A victory over No. 2 Arizona Friday at Wells Fargo Arena may be enough to secure their spot.
"Not in the standings," Sendek noted when asked if a win over the Wildcats would mean more to the Sun Devils than a win over any other team. "Perhaps in the computer (and) certainly for our fan base given the great rivalry that exists between the schools."
But, Sendek added he does not want his team to look at Friday's matchup as anything more than another game. The way the coach sees it, his players are trying as hard as they possibly can every night, meaning you can't really expect any extra effort against the Wildcats.
"The one thing that I think is very dangerous, notwithstanding rivalries, is to ever insinuate to your team that one game is more important than another," he said. "Theoretically, if we're playing the next game, it deserves our very best, whatever that is. And so if you're, theoretically, giving your best, then all of a sudden when your rivalry game comes up, how do you give more than your best?"
Schedule for the week
Dave Tippett and Lon Babby are in-studio on Tuesday for Newsmakers Week.
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week recap: Friday and the full week
- Greg Byrne: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf
- Steve Keim: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf part two
- Steve Keim: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf part one
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week Recap: Thursday
- Herb Sendek: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Herb Sendek: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Derrick Hall: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Three
- Derrick Hall: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Derrick Hall: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week Recap: Wednesday
- Jerry Colangelo: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Four
- Jerry Colangelo: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Three
- Jerry Colangelo: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Jerry Colangelo: Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week Recap: Tuesday
- Lon Babby - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Lon Babby - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Dave Tippett - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Dave Tippett - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Doug & Wolf's Newsmakers Week recap: Monday
- Jeff Hornacek - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Jeff Hornacek - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Kevin Towers - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Four
- Kevin Towers - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Three
- Kevin Towers - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part Two
- Kevin Towers - Newsmakers Week with Doug & Wolf Part One
- Bryan Sperber, PIR President - Friday February 14PIR president Bryan Sperber closes out Newsmakers Week with Doug and Wolf.
- Greg Byrne, UA Athletic Director - Friday February 14Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne sits in on Newsmakers Week.
- Steve Keim, Arizona Cardinals GM - Friday February 14Cardinals GM Steve Keim joins Newsmakers Week.
- Kevin Guy, Arizona Rattlers Head Coach - Thursday February 13What should the NFL implement from arena football?
- Herb Sendek, Head Coach ASU Basketball - Thursday February 13Can ASU make the tournament in March?
- Derrick Hall, D-backs President and CEO - Thursday February 13When does Derrick Hall think things will heat up with the Dodgers?
- Brian Mueller, GCU President - Thursday February 13Brian Mueller explains what attracts athletes to GCU.
- Jim Pitman, Mercury General Manager - Thursday February 13How do things look on the business side of the Mercury organization?
- Ray Anderson, ASU Athletic Director - Wednesday February 12Ray Anderson explains why he took the job at ASU.
- Jason Rowley, Suns President - Wednesday February 12Where are the Suns trending financially?
- Jerry Colangelo, Godfather of Phoenix Sports - Wednesday February 12Jerry Colangelo comes in studio for an entire hour!
- Dan Majerle, Head Coach GCU Basketball - Wednesday February 12Dan Majerle explains the recruiting process.
- David Rousseau, AZ Super Bowl Host Committee Chairman - Tuesday February 11Find out how Glendale is preparing right now to host next year's Super Bowl.
- Lon Babby, Suns President of Operations - Tuesday February 11Eric Bledsoe's future with the team and the relationship between the Suns and Dan Majerle.
- Dave Tippett, Coyotes head coach - Tuesday February 11Dave spends his Olympic break with us in studio to discuss the playoff race his team is in.
- Tim Esmay, ASU baseball coach - Tuesday February 11Tim describes the competitive nature in recruiting high school athletes.
- Tom King, 2014 Waste Managment Phoenix Open Chairman - Tuesday February 11Tom explains how the Phoenix Open continues to be a huge success year after year.
- Charli Turner Thorne, ASU Women's basketball head coach - Monday February 10How is the women's basketball program at ASU doing?
- Kevin Towers, D-backs GM - Monday February 10The D-backs made moves on the mound
- Jeff Hornacek, Suns Head Coach - Monday February 10Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek joins Doug and Wolf during Newsmakers Week.
- Keith Baker, GCU Athletic Director - Monday February 10How long until GCU can make the NCAA tournament?
- George Gosbee Phoenix Coyotes Co-Owner - Monday February 10Live update from the Sochi Winter Olympics.