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Sun Devils’ Bobby Hurley ‘not thinking about NCAA Tournament’ just yet

Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley draws up a play for his team during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against UCLA on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020, in Tempe, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)

It’s officially March, which means the madness of college basketball will be in full swing over the course of the next month.

The Arizona State Sun Devils currently sit in third in the Pac-12 standings behind UCLA and No. 13 Oregon. And with only two games remaining on the regular-season docket, ASU has an opportunity to get a bye in the Pac-12 Tournament, including the No. 1 seed.

“It’s hard to not look at it now. I was avoiding doing it before,” head coach Bobby Hurley said.

“My son went through a few scenarios with me strictly because I’m not thinking about the NCAA Tournament. I’m just thinking about is there a route for us to win the Pac-12 regular season still and what about the byes? Because that’s such a key thing to have in Vegas is to be in the top four in the conference.”

There are a plethora of scenarios in which ASU can obtain a bye in the Pac-12 Tournament, but there is only one way in which the Sun Devils can clinch the No. 1 seed.

There’s also only one route in which Arizona State can guarantee a bye: win its last two games on the schedule against Washington and Washington State, both of which will take place in Tempe.

But if ASU drops just one of those contests, Hurley and Co. could see themselves slip out of the top four and have to play the opening round of the conference tournament due to tiebreakers between more than two teams.

“Realistically, I know Oregon did it last year, but the percentages and the numbers don’t say that it’s something that is in your best interest to be outside that top four,” Hurley said.

“It’s hard to win four days in a row, so you put yourself in a much stronger position to win a championship if you have that extra day.”

The only way the Sun Devils can finish atop the Pac-12 standings is to win-out and hope that both UCLA and Oregon lose-out. UCLA wraps up its regular season against USC, while Oregon hosts Cal and Stanford.

Hurley said that he has yet to speak to the team about his experience in big tournaments, but that it can be a life-changing experience for players. The former Duke Blue Devil won back-to-back national championships in 1991 and 1992, the latter of which crowned him as the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player.

For the ASU head coach, that player is junior guard Remy Martin.

“I think it’s very important, especially at key positions, at the point guard position in tournaments,” Hurley said of Martin.

“A lot of the plays that are made are going to determine your fate and if you have a guy at that position is exceptional as a playmaker and decision-maker and a winner and knows how to get those things done, your odds improve.”

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