Arizona State Is More Likely To Be In The First Four Than Final Four

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Source: Christian Peterson/Getty Images

by Eli Boettger – February 5, 2018

Remember when Arizona State was a consensus projected No. 1 seed, one of the nation’s final undefeateds, and was a realistic Final Four pick?

Boy, have things changed.

Arizona State beat Washington State on the road this past weekend, but the performance did little to fend off skeptics that once believed Bobby Hurley’s squad was one of the country’s top teams. ASU won its first dozen games to kick off the season, but is just 5-6 over the past 11 matchups. In short, the team that was ranked in the AP top 5 for four consecutive weeks has seen its stock plummet since New Year’s.

The table below is the list of teams ranked in the AP top 5 in the first post-New Year’s Day AP poll that won fewer than 70% of their remaining games that season. The stats date back to the 2007-08.

Arizona State is surely in the running for the lowest seed of former New Year’s top 5 teams in over a decade.

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* – denotes current BracketMatrix seed projection

The table below indicates where New Year’s AP top 5 teams have been seeded in the same year’s NCAA Tournament. More than half of teams ranked in the top 5 in the first poll after New Year’s have notched No. 1 seeds in the tournament. Arizona State maintains an average seed of 8.44 in this morning’s BracketMatrix.com update. No team over the past decade has been a No. 9 seed or worse after being an AP top 5 team on New Year’s Day.

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The good news? Arizona State’s remaining schedule is fairly easy. The Sun Devils take on three top 60 KenPom teams the remaining of the season, all of which are at home.

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Image courtesy of KenPom.com

Using KenPom’s win probabilities, there’s a 9.2% chance that Arizona State finishes the regular season without losing another game. That would propel ASU from a sub-.500 league record to 12-6, likely good enough for a top 3 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament. Arizona State has dropped nearly 20 spots since the calendar flipped to 2018, but KenPom projections still project a respectable 5-2 finish for the Sun Devils.

Regardless of how or whether ASU regroups, Arizona State fans will have a hard time believing that the March iteration of the Sun Devils resembles its former top 5 self.

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