Arizona St. gets NIT No. 1 seed; Arizona left out

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Arizona State's narrow miss for an NCAA tournament berth resulted in a No. 1 seed for the Sun Devils in the NIT.

Arizona got no such consolation prize. The end of the Wildcats' 25-year string of NCAA tournament berths worsened when they were left out of the 32-team NIT.

Arizona State (22-10) will be home against Jacksonville (19-12) on Tuesday night. The Sun Devils finished second to California in the Pac-10 regular-season standings, but their hopes for an NCAA bid were dashed with a loss to Stanford in the conference tournament quarterfinals.

"You look across the bracket and you see several teams that were playing at a high level, along with conference champions from underrated conferences," Arizona State coach Herb Sendek said.

"There are several teams that were very close to being in the NCAA tournament, so we will work toward being ready to play Tuesday."

Arizona (16-15) had the longest active streak of NCAA appearances before this season. First-year coach Sean Miller's young squad finished fourth in the Pac-10 at 10-8 but lost to UCLA in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 tournament.

The other No. 1 seeds in the NIT are Virginia Tech, Illinois and Mississippi State.

Miller, who came to Arizona after a highly successful stint at Xavier, said he wasn't surprised that the Wildcats failed to make it.

"You know it was interesting over the last few weeks as I've talked to a number of people here in Tucson or those affiliated with our program that it's been so long since anything but the NCAA tournament has been the topic that you could tell that people weren't up on how the NIT has changed," Miller said.

"The NIT is a true selection process. Performance is how you get into it. I'm sure that we were close to making it."

He said the NIT no longer awards bids simply because a team would draw a big crowd.

"The days hosting it because you have the most people in McKale or that you make the most money have ended," Miller said. "You could tell by following it this year that performance is what makes both tournaments, and we probably fell a bit short."

The Wildcats already had said they would not accept a bid to the College Basketball Invitational.

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