Bobby Hurley has seemingly done the inconceivable in Tempe. He has turned Arizona State into a basketball school.
The Sun Devils are going to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season. The last time they made back-to-back appearances in the Big Dance, Byron Scott was leading the squad in 1980-81. In Hurley's fourth season as head coach. ASU is the only Pac-12 school to make the NCAAs the last two seasons.
ASU has an all-time record of 11-16 in the tournament and haven't reached the Elite Eight since 1975 under Ned Wulk. Getting over the first round hump is been a long standing challenge for the Sun Devils. They lost to Syracuse 60-56 in the First Four last year despite leading 49-42 with seven minutes left in the game. They fell to the Texas Longhorns on a buzzer-beater in 2014. The last time ASU won a tournament game was a 66-57 blowout against Temple in 2009 led by James Harden.
This year, ASU will take on St. Johns in the First Four on Wednesday in Dayton, OH. The Red Storm started the season with a 12 game winning streak but went 8-10 in the conference slate of the season.
Led by Shamorie Ponds' 19.5 points per game, all five starters average in the double-digits in scoring. Small forward LJ Figueroa leads the team with 6.2 rebounds per game. This is the team that you think of when ESPN's Stugotz describes nearly every team with having "good guard play".
ESPN's Joe Lunardi considered it to be "a bad matchup" for St. Johns against Arizona State. One thing to certainly look for in this matchup is the three point struggles of the Red Storm. In the Big East Tournament, the Red Storm shot 7-of-22 in a 82-76 win over the DePaul Blue Demons in the first round and 3-for-20 in a 86-54 loss to the Marquette Golden Eagles in the second round.
If the Sun Devils manage to get their first tournament win in a decade, they will be rewarded with a nostalgic showdown with Buffalo, Hurley's old stomping grounds.