The simple presence of Arizona State … will pay dividends for Sun Devil Basketball.
The Arizona State Sun Devils will face the Texas Longhorns Thursday evening in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Basketball Tournament. Though they stumbled through the finish line with losses to Oregon, Oregon State, and Stanford (in the Pac-12 Tournament), the Devils were given a NCAA Tournament birth, and the tenth seed in the Midwest Bracket.
ASU is not expected to go far in the tournament, but being there is already quite the accomplishment for a program that has struggled in recent seasons. Even if the seventh seeded Longhorns dispose of Tempe’s team with ease, the fact that ASU is on the bracket will pay dividends for Sun Devil Basketball.
Air time and exposure is gold for ASU. Under the national spotlight of the “Dance,” the Sun Devil program will reach more sponsors, boosters, recruits and their families. March Madness also has a large international audience which will provide ASU a couple spots to bolster it’s brand overseas.
For a program that is on the smaller side of division one hoops, this is a chance for ASU to be noticed on a grander scale. A first round victory over the Longhorns would bring ASU its biggest spotlight in recent memory.
The tournament is also a great showcase for Sun Devil Basketball’s best player, Jahii Carson. Carson is capable of big things, and will likely be selected in the upcoming NBA draft. He was horrific against Stanford in the Pac-12 tournament (4-13 from the field in a 21 point loss), but he can improve his draft stalk with a good performance against Texas.
Lastly, this is a chance for the young Sun Devils to grow. With key players Jahii Carson, Jermaine Marshall, Jordan Bachynksi and Shaquille McKissic departing at season’s end, this will be a good opportunity for Jonathan Gilling (Junior), Bo Barnes (Junior), and Eric Jacobsen (Sophomore) to experience the most pressured atmosphere.
Don’t expect the Sun Devils to make a deep run in this year’s tournament. They are too inconsistent and don’t fare well enough on the road to advance into the later rounds. Instead, look for the opportunities and accomplishments already afforded to the program this season. Thanks to the efforts of the 2014 Sun Devil players and coaching staff, basketball is on the rise here in Tempe.