Mar 8, 2023 - Sports

ASU could punch its ticket to the Big Dance in conference tourney

A basketball player surrounded by opponents falls after being fouled while taking a shot.

DJ Horne falls after being fouled during a game between USC Trojans and ASU at Galen Center on March 4 in Los Angeles. Photo: Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Sun Devils will be competing for a spot in the March Madness brackets as the Wildcats jockey for position in the brackets in the Pac-12 men's basketball tournament, which kicks off Wednesday night.

State of play: ASU is on the proverbial bubble and is in ESPN college basketball guru Joe Lunardi's "first four out," so they likely need a strong showing in the conference tournament to snag a spot in the NCAA bracket.

  • The Sun Devils are 11-9 in conference — tied with Washington State for fourth place in the Pac-12 — and 20-11 overall, with a marquee win over UofA last month.
  • They open the conference tourney at 9:30pm against Oregon State, the second-worst team in the Pac-12.
  • If they win, they'll play third-seeded USC Thursday.

Meanwhile: UofA's spot in the dance is assured. The only question is where the Cats will be seeded.

  • After dropping two of their last three and falling to eighth place nationally, the Cats likely need to win the conference tourney for a shot at a No. 1 seed.
  • As of now, most analysts project Arizona to be a No. 2 seed in March Madness.

1 big rematch: If ASU gets past Oregon State and USC, and if UofA beats the winner of Wednesday night's Utah-Stanford game, the Sun Devils and Cats will face off.

  • For ASU, it would be a chance to punch their ticket to the dance, while UofA will likely have revenge on the mind after losing its last game to the Sun Devils on a buzzer-beating three from beyond half court.

Our thought bubble: As alumni of UofA and ASU, respectively, Jeremy and Jessica have a lot on the line.

  • Jeremy: My Cats traditionally perform well in the conference tourney, winning four of the last seven, and I like their chances against UCLA if they get to the championship game.
  • Yes, but: A No. 1 seed comes with heightened expectations, so I won't be too disappointed if we end up with a No. 2 seed.
  • Jessica: Like most ASU fans, I'm just happy to have a (long shot) chance at the big tournament. 😂

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