Arizona State fans can now exhale.
After receiving an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, the Sun Devils will join the big dance for the second time since 2003, being placed as a No. 10 seed and scheduled to play the No. 7 seed Texas on Thursday.
Former Sun Devil and current color analyst for ASU Kyle Dodd was part of the 2003 team that won their opening game as a No. 10 seed against then No. 7 seed Memphis, and says history can repeat itself this year.
“Finishing defensive possessions for ASU has been a real issue all year along with securing rebounds,” Dodd told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
“At the same time, Texas is a team that struggles to score and I think as always with ASU, if they’re knocking down shots and you got Jermaine Marshall and Jonathan Gilling stretching the defense and you can score the basketball a little bit and let Jahii Carson go to work, I think it’s a favorable matchup.”
Both Texas and ASU have lost five out of their last eight games, including three straight losses for the Sun Devils.
It has been over a month since either school has won a game on the road, while both have only lost a game a piece at home all season.
“It really depends on what kind of ASU team shows up,” Dodd said. “Is it the team we’ve seen at times this year at home or is the team that has really struggled on the road in the past couple of weeks?
“I think the big thing for them is to go out and play hard. When they play with energy, I think they have the talent and the personnel to matchup with anybody.”
The personnel that ASU will bring to their first NCAA Tournament game since 2009 includes a First-Team All-Pac-12 point guard in Jahii Carson.
A sophomore, Carson is expected to enter the NBA Draft in June and will have to beat Texas if he wants to play another game as a Sun Devil.
“I never doubt Jahii Carson when the lights are on,” Dodd said. “I think he’s a guy who loves to put on a show and what better way to put on a show then in the NCAA Tournament.”
Dodd says that goes for the rest of the team that failed to win a game at the Pac-12 Tournament last week.
“Nobody wants to remember how they played in Las Vegas against Stanford or even the last road trip to the Oregon schools, but the thing that I have noticed about this team is that just when you think they may be headed down the wrong path, they’ve been pretty resilient this year,” Dodd said. “They’ve bounced back and surprised a lot of people.”
If ASU is able to escape the first-round matchup with the Longhorns, they will play the winner of No. 2 Michigan and No. 15 Wofford for a Sweet 16 berth.