Reaction to Arizona State making the NCAA Tournament field
The days of sweating are over for Bobby Hurley and the Arizona State Sun Devils.
After limping to a ninth-place finish in the Pac-12 and dropping five of their last six games overall, the Sun Devils got their invitation to this year’s NCAA Tournament — their first appearance since 2014.
Many figured the Devils were squarely on the bubble, and those people were right. ASU was one of the last four teams to make the field, along with Pac-12 rival UCLA, St. Bonaventure and Syracuse. The Sun Devils will face the Orange in a First Four matchup in Dayton, Ohio Wednesday night.
Of course, not every team makes it. USC, a team that finished 23-11 overall and 12-6 in Pac-12 play and seven spots higher in the conference standings than ASU did, was not invited. The Trojans were one of the first four teams out.
The difference between the two teams’ résumés was in quality of nonconference wins. Arizona State beat two teams — Xavier and Kansas — that went on to grab top seeds in this year’s field and rode that all the way into the tourney. USC’s best nonconference win was arguably an 89-84 win over Middle Tennessee in a holiday tournament in Hawaii in December. Middle Tennessee, saw its bubble burst as the Blue Raiders were left out of the tournament field despite going 24-7 and 16-2 to win the regular season Conference USA title.
ASU’s head-to-head win over USC didn’t hurt, either.
Charles Barkley, a panelist on the TBS March Madness Selection Show, grilled Bruce Rasmussen, the chairman of the selection committee on why ASU and Syracuse got in and USC didn’t.
“Arizona State, we felt, had — if you look at their wins — and if you look at teams in the tournament and the caliber of wins a team has — and they had a couple of outstanding wins early and they had enough on their résumé that the committee felt they needed to be in,” Rasmussen said.
Needless to say, there was plenty of reaction to the Sun Devils’ inclusion in this year’s tournament. Here’s a sample.
Just listened to chair Bruce Rasmussen talk about how ASU got in ahead of USC because of ''outstanding wins early''..what a joke… college teams evolve dramatically over course of season..early wins almost meaningless in March..what kind of team do they have now?..USC shud be in
— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) March 11, 2018
Gripe if you must about ASU getting in, but NCAA tournament selection chairman Bruce Rasmussen basically incentivized every team to play (and win) a challenging non-conference schedule. And that's a win for college hoops fans.
— Percy Allen (@percyallen) March 11, 2018
Arizona State & Oklahoma getting at-large bids is a complete disgrace. Losses just don't matter. All of Bruce Rasmussen's tough-talking was complete garbage, as I figured it would be.
— Derek Martin (@d2mart) March 11, 2018
Can't believe teams like Syracuse & Arizona State (both 8-10 in conf.) make it in to #MarchMadness2018 over teams like USC and St. Mary's. Then @rasmussen_bruce completely dodges Charles Barkley's question when asked about it on #SelectionSunday. The selection committee is a joke
— Mayank Keshaviah (@mkeshaviah) March 11, 2018
With an RPI of No. 34, USC is the highest-ranked major conference team ever left out of the NCAA Tournament in the 68-team era.
— Joey Kaufman (@joeyrkaufman) March 11, 2018
— Sun Devil Club (@sundevilclub) March 11, 2018
— ASU BB Report (@asu_bb_fanly) March 11, 2018
Give the committee credit — they've emphasized the importance of non-conference scheduling and non-conference performance. They've stuck with it. ASU is proof.
— Doug Haller (@DougHaller) March 11, 2018
if you are confused by USC out and ASU in:
1 conf record doesn't matter
2 body of work does matter
3 beating two No. 1 seeds away from home sure as hell matters
— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) March 11, 2018