Hurley defends ASU NCAA Tournament resume: 'I know what we've accomplished'

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

Most college basketball coaches, whether they’re being truthful or not, would never admit to reading about RPIs, rankings, ratings, post-season projections and prognostications during the season.

Bobby Hurley isn’t most coaches.

“I like to look at it,” said Hurley as he prepares his team for a home game against USC Thursday night. “I like to know where we stand and what people think about what we’ve done.”

If you’re wondering, Hurley is currently seeing what’s readily available to all internet-using college basketball fans.

ESPN NCAA Tournament "bracketologist" Joe Lunardi currently has Arizona State University as a nine-seed in the Midwest region. College RPI currently ranks ASU 39th while Ken Pomeroy’s noted formula has ASU checking in at 29th. The NCAA Tournament vital signs are still good for the Sun Devils despite five losses in 11 games and a less-than-impressive Pac-12 record of 5-6.

“I think most teams if they’re sitting there in the first week of February and they see that they’re an eight or a nine seed, everyone’s clapping; they’re standing up and clapping,” said Hurley. “I know what we accomplished in the non-conference and just about nobody else in the country was able to do that.”

It’s a bit disconcerting that the Sun Devils are even addressing a potential spot on the NCAA Tournament’s much-discussed bubble.

As the calendar flipped to 2018, ASU was one of college basketball’s hottest teams and best stories. The Sun Devils were ranked in the top five and looked every bit the team that could make a deep post-season run.  A sobering first 11 games in the conference season may have dampened fan expectations but Hurley is determined to not let that mindset consume his players.

“We just got to keep things in perspective,” said Hurley. “Right now we’re an NCAA Tournament team. We’ve done a lot to earn that but we still have work to do and a season to close out.”

It’s important that Hurley acknowledges that the Sun Devils have work to do. They do.

Three more conference wins would do their resume wonders.  Three more conference wins will assure ASU an 8-10 Pac-12 regular season record. While that’s not going to necessarily impress the selection committee, a 7-11 conference record might be just poor enough to close the door on the 2018 NCAA Tournament.

“It’s a three-month season, not a one-month season,” said Hurley. “There are a number of games left in the season and there’s a lot of life left in our gym.”

The schedule dictates that the time for ASU to stockpile wins is now. Three straight home games beginning with USC tonight. UCLA plays in Tempe Saturday. Arizona hits town on Thursday, Feb. 15.  If ASU can say, pull off a three-game sweep, it will catapult the Sun Devils to 20-6 overall, 8-6 in the Pac-12 and will add another top-15 caliber win to their resume. That will undeniably punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament.

Opportunity is knocking on the Devil’s door right now. The question is will they answer.

“As much as I respect the talent of the opponents that are coming in here, I like my group,” said Hurley. “I like where we are right now in the season and what we’ll do over the next three weeks.”

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