Bragging rights, for one.
But Saturday the Wildcats can play the unusual role of spoiler against their in-state rival, too. While Arizona needs to win the Pac-12 Tournament to make the NCAA tourney, the Sun Devils (20-9, 11-6 Pac-12) are firmly on the bubble for an at-large bid as they head to Tucson.
Here is how major outlets currently project the Sun Devils’ NCAA Tournament seed:
- ESPN: 11 seed, Last Four Byes
- CBS: 11 seed, Last Four In
- SB Nation: 11 seed, Last Four Byes
- Bleacher Report: Fourth-to-Last In
- USA Today: 12 seed, Last Four In
ASU has a strange résumé that includes some terrific wins over Kansas, Mississippi State, Utah State and Washington, some head-scratching losses to Princeton and Washington State, and then a whole bunch of meh thanks to the overall weakness of the Pac-12.
Given the aforementioned projections, the Sun Devils are probably on the right side of the bubble as it stands now. But with a NET rating of 68, they do not have much room for error.
Thus, a road win over Arizona and a win in the Pac-12 Tournament probably secures ASU’s spot in the Big Dance. Anything less than that and the Sun Devils will be sweating it out come Selection Sunday.
The last time ASU made the NCAA Tournament and Arizona didn’t was all the way back in 1981. Maybe that will change this year. Or maybe the Wildcats will do their part to make sure it doesn’t happen.