Arizona State basketball has suffered a few bumps in the road in their quest to obtain an NCAA Tournament bid.
A demoralizing loss to Washington on Saturday night dropped ASU’s record to 3-3 in their past six contests, lowering their RPI to 87. Despite holding an impressive 20-8 overall record and 9-6 mark in Pac-12 play, strength of schedule and glaring losses to Utah and DePaul could very well derail their hopes.
ASU head coach Herb Sendek told Arizona Sports 620’s Burns and Gambo Show Tuesday he doesn’t know how many wins it’ll take to get his team in the tournament, but he knows they’ll have to perform exceptionally well in their remaining three road games to have a viable shot.
“Obviously, we have to win,” Sendek said. “I don’t know what the magic number is but we have to win and it’s really hard to say what that number is. At one time, if you went .500 or above in a power conference, you were in. Right now we have nine wins, so even if we didn’t win our remaining games, there are many years where that’s good enough.”
But this year, that may not be the case.
ASU will face UCLA, USC and rival Arizona in hostile territory to finish the season. If they are able to win out, that would significantly help their chances.
Sendek said he feels the criteria for determining which teams on the cusp will get bids has changed in recent years.
“I think one thing that’s changed is not everybody in every conference plays the same schedule,” Sendek explained. “We’ve gotten away from everybody plays each other twice, not only in our league but in leagues across the country. I think the parody in college basketball continues to grow to the point where it seems like there’s even more upsets in some of the mid-major and low-major conferences that end up taking away another bid from a BCS conference at the margin.”
Theories aside, ASU faces a tall task of making the tournament if they fail to win their final three games and perform well in the Pac-12 Tournament.
Whether or not the Devils are able to get in, Sendek said he’s been impressed with the way his players have handled their recent ups and downs.
“Our guys have done a great job of staying in the moment, and except for a very small sample set of elite teams, what team can’t you say what you’ve said about us, I mean that’s college basketball,” Sendek stated. “We’re not in the position of dominance but we’ve had a good season and we’ve faced a really tough home stretch.
“But our guys in terms of their coachability, their attitude, their spirit, their energy, there an easy group to cheer for and there a fun group to coach.”