In the interest of full disclosure, Deadspin.com’s Matt Giles admits his weekly ranking of the top 15 most watchable teams in college basketball isn’t based on records or the schools most likely to make a deep run in March.
With that said, Valley fans will take a nod in their direction any which way they can get it at this point.
Through 16 games, the ASU Sun Devils are off to their best start since 2007-08, when James Harden and Co. raced out to an identical 14-2 record. While the road will get tougher for Herb Sendek’s squad following Thursday’s third straight win in Pac-12 play against Oregon State, it’s never a bad thing to get a little national attention.
For their surprising sprint out of the gates this season, the Sun Devils came in at No. 6 on Giles’ list.
Under coach Herb Sendek, the ASU offense historically had been a dull exercise in arranging five pieces of statuary around the halfcourt—and then guard Jahii Carson showed up. Carson, ruled ineligible by the NCAA last year, has been as good as advertised. Streaky from the perimeter, he has quite possibly the quickest first step in D1, and he has readily assumed the role of orchestrating the break.
Through the non-conference slate, ASU used 72 possessions per game—a brisk pace for any team, let alone a Sendek bunch. A quarter of Carson’s assists were handed out in transition, and his teammates, like Carrick Felix, have benefited. Before this season, Felix was known primarily for being the first junior college player ever to get a Duke scholarship offer, but after 13 games, Felix is now making a name for himself as a slasher filling the right wing (and scoring 1.4 points per fast break).
In addition to the play of Carson and Felix, junior center Jordan Bachynski has been much-improved at the offensive end, averaging 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds per game heading into Sunday’s road clash against Oregon. Bachynski also is third in the nation with 4.5 blocked shots per game.
ASU wasn’t the only local team to make the weekly list. Despite a 5-10 start, NAU came in behind the Sun Devils at No. 8.