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Early ESPN Bracketology has ASU basketball as 8th seed

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley listens to questions during the Pac-12 NCAA college basketball media day Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Led by a core of his own recruits for the first time as head coach of the Arizona State men’s basketball program, Bobby Hurley and the Sun Devils are off to a perfect 6-0 start to the season.

With an 89-71 victory over Omaha on Wednesday, the Sun Devils extended their non-conference winning streak to 19 games, the sixth-longest non-conference winning streak in Pac-12 history.

Freshman shooting guard Luguentz Dort has been the highest scoring freshman in college basketball to start the year, averaging 22.3 points on 43.7 percent shooting from the floor in addition to 7.3 rebounds and 2.3 steals per night. With the record intact and a star player leading the way, ASU has begun to garner some national attention.

For the first time this season, Arizona State was featured on ESPN’s Bracketology as an eighth seed in the West. If the tournament began today, ESPN predicts that ASU would face ninth-seeded Syracuse in a rematch of last season’s play-in game. The Orange returned both forward Oshae Brissett and guard Tyus Battle, who combined for 38 points against the Sun Devils in the 60-56 loss in March.

Arizona State has a drastically altered rotation this season with an entirely new starting five lacing up. Forward Kimani Lawrence, who only played 19 games last season, is in the midst of a breakout campaign. Lawrence is putting up 15.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per contest while shooting an effective field goal percentage of 55.7 percent.

After buying into “Guard U” last season, Hurley has taken an entirely different approach with his new squad. Junior spark plug Remy Martin is the only true point guard with a consistent role in the rotation, but he is currently sidelined with an ankle injury. Because of this, Hurley started four forwards with Dort at point against Omaha. This allowed the Sun Devils to show off their versatility with 6-foot-10 forward Zylan Cheatham finishing one assist shy of the second triple-double in school history.

The Sun Devils will face No. 5 Nevada and No. 2 Kansas in their next five games. It won’t be easy, but there’s a pathway for Hurley’s program to become the last undefeated team in the nation for the second year in a row.

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