For the first time in five years, the ASU men’s basketball team is going dancing.
The Sun Devils got an invite Sunday to their first trip to the NCAA Tournament since 2009. ASU, which got the No. 10 seed in the Midwest region, will face No. 7 Texas on Thursday in Milwaukee in the second round.
“We finally made it, and now we’re part of March Madness,” senior center Jordan Bachynski said. “You’re going to see some of the best basketball we’ve played all year.”
This marks the eighth time in 21 years of coaching that Herb Sendek has led his team to the NCAA Tournament and only his second trip with ASU. He went once with Miami (Ohio) in 1995 and five times with North Carolina State. Sendek’s Wolfpack went to the Sweet Sixteen in 2005.
The Sun Devils have a 21-11 (10-8 Pac-12) record and are ranked 42nd in the RPI. ASU finished with a home record of 16-1, which is the Sun Devils’ best mark since the 1974-75 season.
ASU’s defining win of the season came when it defeated UA at home 69-66 in double overtime on Feb. 14. The Sun Devils also had quality wins over Oregon, Colorado, Stanford and California during the regular season.
ASU is coming in the NCAA Tournament off one of its lowest points of the season when it lost to Stanford 79-58 on Thursday in the second round of the Pac-12 Tournament. The Sun Devils are currently riding a three-game losing streak and haven’t won away from Tempe since Jan. 29 when they beat California 89-78 in overtime.
Texas’ athletic director is Steve Patterson, who previously served at ASU in the same position before leaving to the Longhorns last November. Texas is 31st in the RPI and finished the 2013-14 season with a 23-10 (11-7 Big 12) record. The Longhorns lost to Baylor in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Tournament.
Texas made the NCAA Tournament in 14 of its last 15 seasons.
The winner of ASU-Texas will face the winner of No. 2 Michigan versus No. 15 Wofford.
Reach the reporter at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Josh_Nacion