Let’s pop some bubbles.
If you are a big ASU fan but you don’t have the time or desire (or in my case you actually have a life) to study college basketball, I’m here for you. If you’ve been wondering what will it take to get ASU in the NCAA tournament, I’ll tell you what to do. And, before you ask, yes, I believe you sitting on your couch rooting for and against these teams will make a difference.
First, this is not a blog about whether or not ASU should be in the tourney. If it was, I would say no and the blog would end. There are 34 at-large bids and I don’t think ASU is one of the 34 best teams in the country. The catch is this year in college basketball there aren’t 34 teams that deserve at-large bids so ASU has just as much of an argument as any other team.
There’s three criteria to getting in from this point forward.
1) What ASU must do
2) Who ASU needs to win
3) Who ASU needs to lose
Obviously if ASU wins the Pac-10 tourney, they’re in without needing to rely on the committee and anything I say from this point on is irrelevant.
If ASU goes on a four-game winning streak and loses to Cal in the final of the next week’s tournament, that’s set-up for success. In any other scenario, things wouldn’t look good. If ASU losses either game this weekend, it’s over. They can’t afford any home losses. They also can’t afford one-and-done in the Pac-10. The Pac-10 is a joke this year and losing in the first round will only solidify that point in the selection committee’s mind. If the Sun Devils lose to Cal, they will up their SOS (cool code for strength of schedule) and pick up four wins along the way.
Here’s the teams you want to pay attention to the rest of the way out. Every time you see a score with one of these teams, hope they’re in the lead or are already victorious. If you’re watching them play, scream your head off in support.
1) TEMPLE: A month ago, the A-10 had a chance at being the 4th best conference in college basketball. That’s changed now. Temple is in no questions asked. The benefit for ASU is every time they win, they weaken the other A-10 teams’ resume. St. Louis, Dayton, Rhode Island, and Charlotte are all bubble teams (I take UD and URI). The real key is for Temple to win the A-10 tourney. Since they’re in, ASU fans want Temple to take one of the 31 automatic bids to leave more at-large for the Devils.
2) MURRAY STATE: I don’t think they’re in the tourney as an at-large but why leave it up to chance? They’ve only got four losses (granted one is to Pac-10 leader Cal). Plus, the committee normally rewards conference supremacy. MSU lost only one conference game and it was on the road by five points. For the first time in your life, you should care about the OVC tourney.
3) NC STATE: Is there any irony here? State has no shot. However, there are a ton of bubbles that can be burst in the ACC. Every time NCST wins, they muddy someone else’s waters. Even a two-win run in the ACC tourney would be huge for ASU.
4) UTEP: You got to have this one. UTEP is in no matter what happens. Root for them to take an automatic bid instead of an at-large. In the meantime, each win could pop other bubbles. Memphis, UAB, Marshall and Tulsa are all dreaming of the tourney.
5) SDSU: This is a bubble team you should actually pull for because they could bring ASU in with them. Every time SDSU wins, ASU’s RPI and SOS go up.
Now, it’s time to become a hater. Here’s who ASU is rooting against.
1) ANY TEAM FROM OHIO EXCEPT OSU: There are a ton of bubble teams in Ohio. You want them all to lose. The MAC is praying for an at-large bid but if Akron and Kent lose out, they won’t get one. Dayton is still hanging around. Any A-10 run for them is bad for ASU. Xavier is in based on their win at Florida but it would be better if they could lose.
2) MINNESOTA: They killed themselves losing to Michigan. Get beat in their first Big 10 tourney game will finish them.
3) ILLINOIS: See number 2…except for the Michigan part.
4) MARSHALL/MEMPHIS/UAB/TULSA: They’re all in the same boat. Every time they lose it’s good for ASU because they’re all strong bubble teams. If they play each other, root for Memphis.
5) THE SEC (minus any school from a commonwealth or Tennessee): The SEC is better than the Pac-10 but it’s not in any way a power. UK, Vandy, and UT are in without discussion. Florida’s lost to XU and a potential 3-game losing streak to end the regular season should end their hopes. The big one for ASU fans is Mississippi State. MSU leads the SEC West so they’re getting a bump. This is a joke. If ASU isn’t getting credit for being second in a weak conference, it’s hypocrisy to give MSU credit for leading the sad division of a conference. MSU’s signature win is versus a bad UCLA team (which makes ASU v UCLA vital).
6) St. MARY’S: ASU fans, here’s the one to go off. SMU is 2-1 in the Pac-10 with a win over CAL. That hurts. However, the WCC is weaker than the Pac-10 so let’s not allow their conference record to influence decisions. There’s only one question to ask of a WCC team. Did you beat Gonzaga? SMU did not.