The Pac-12 round off one of the most competitive season in conference history, as seven NCAA Tournament berths could be awarded to Pac-12 teams next week.
Oregon won the regular season title outright in a relatively surprising fashion, while the reigning conference champion Arizona comes to Las Vegas with the fourth seed. But all the bets reset when the conference tournament opens tonight in the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
Under Bobby Hurley's first year in Tempe, Arizona State did not surprised and ended the regular season at the penultimate conference spot. The 11th seed awaits in Sin City, a place that historically never do any good to the Sun Devils.
What is at stakes for ASU in Las Vegas:
Win the first round
It sounds logic, but Arizona State lost in the first round last year after a stunning second-half comeback by USC.
The Sun Devils kick off their tournament on the first day of competition, facing the sixth seed, Oregon State. This matchup is probably the friendliest ASU could have hoped. The two teams fought in Tempe on Jan. 28, and Bobby Hurley's squad came out on the winning side. It was actually the most convincing success of ASU's regular season, as the Sun Devils won by 18 and kept Oregon State's start player, Gary Payton II, to 2 little points on 1-of-7 shooting.
Plus, ASU shot a season-high 59.3 percent, their only conference game above 50 percent in 2015-16. There is hope and luckily for the Sun Devils, forward Tres Tinkle - the Beavers' second-leading scorer - suffered a foot injury recently and his status is currently unknown.
On the flip side, an 11th seed never won a game in the tournament since the Pac-12 expanded to 12 schools. Looking back at Arizona State sad history in Las Vegas, this is obviously not a good news.
The Sun Devils showed lately they can fight tooth and nail with top Pac-12 teams. 3-seed California could have definitely lost in Tempe last week without a controversial call going their way. Good thing: if Arizona State beat Oregon State in the first round, they would meet the Golden Bears in quarterfinals.
Between Oregon, Utah, California and Arizona, the conference top-seeded teams, ASU played their best basketball against the Golden Bears. It is rough to remind you the Sun Devils visited Salt Lake City and Tucson in February and lost by more than 30 points both times. However, Arizona State faced California twice this season and nearly defeated their opponent at home or on the road. Once again, there is hope.
With a relatively friendly schedule, and a fluctuant level of play, Arizona State should definitely be considered as a dark horse in this Pac-12 Tournament. All the stars would need to align, of course.
This team could well beat the odds in the fitting place that is Las Vegas. ASU experienced a tough 2015-16 season and could seek redemption during the Pac-12 Tournament. Is a deep run enough to earn a NIT berth?