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Reaction to Arizona State making the NCAA Tournament field

Arizona State guard Tra Holder (0) points to a teammate after scoring during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Southern California Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, in Tempe, Ariz. Arizona State defeated Southern California 80-78. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

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.

Chills.

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