After being a bubble team for much of last season, the Arizona State enters the 2013/2014 campaign with the NCAA tournament in sights. Herb Sendek and company know, with a veteran team, this is their year to make some noise in the Pac-12 and maybe nationally.
The Sun Devils return the best guard in the conference and one of the best point guards in the nation in Jahii Carson. Arizona State also brings back one of the best shot blockers in the nation, Jordan Bachynski and three-point specialist Jonathan Gilling.
Alongside Carson in the backcourt will be senior Jermaine Marshall, who comes to Tempe after averaging 15.3 PPG at Penn State last season. Junior college transfer Shaquille McKissic will step in and start in the frontcourt alongside Gilling and Bachynski.
Find out how our writers think the season will go down in our Arizona State basketball roundtable season preview.
House of Sparky Staff
State Press Staff
Josh Nacion: Basketball Beat Writer
*- Nick Krueger also serves as the lead Arizona State basketball writer for the Walter Cronkite Sports Network
Over/Under 20 PPG for Jahii Carson:Over (three votes: Haber, Crowley, Casillas), Under (four votes: Bafaloukos, Ulm, Nacion, Krueger)
Over/Under 8.5 RPG for Jordan Bachynski: Over (four votes: Bafaloukos, Ulm, Crowley, Nacion), Under (three votes: Casillas, Haber, Krueger)
Who will finish as the team's second leading scorer (behind Carson): Bachynski (Crowley, Krueger, Casillas), Marshall (Nacion, Bafaloukos, Haber), Gilling (Ulm)
Which newcomer will have the biggest impact this season: Marshall (five votes), McKissic (two votes: Krueger, Casillas)
Who will be the breakout player of the season: Shaq McKissic (five votes), Gilling (Nacion), Bachynski (Haber)
What will be Arizona State's biggest victory of the season: Arizona (two votes: Haber, Casillas), UCLA (two votes: Bafaloukos, Ulm) Marquette (one vote: Krueger), Creighton (one vote: Nacion), Colorado (one vote: Crowley)
What will be Arizona State's worse loss of the season: DePaul (Krueger), Texas Tech (Bafaloukos), Utah (Crowley), Oregon State (Nacion), USC (Haber), Washington State (Casillas), Washington (Ulm)
On a scale of 1-10, how hot is Herb Sendek's seat coming into this season: Nine (two votes: Casillas, Ulm), Seven (two votes: Krueger, Bafaloukos), Six (Nacion), Five (Crowley), Three (Haber)
Cody Ulm: The Sun Devils are one solid rotational big man away from being in the NCAA tournament conversation. This roster just has too many holes to play consistent basketball game in and game out. Arizona State is talented enough to beat any team on their schedule (outside of UA) but flawed enough that they'll lose to many that they shouldn't. Carrick Felix was the type of player that masked many of those flaws and I don't see a player on this roster that can make up his production.
I do see the Sun Devils gelling early despite all the new names. I just think think their upside caps out as "one of the last four out." That said, the Sun Devils are dangerous enough to make a run in the Pac-12 Tournament (so cross your fingers, Sun Devil fans).
Kerry Crowley: I think this Sun Devil team has all the makings of an NCAA tournament team. Arizona State has one of the most electric players in the country in Jahii Carson, but it's what the Sun Devils have around him that's going to make the difference this season. Everyone knows that Jahii can light up the scoreboard, and now it's time to see him get some help.
A tougher, more rugged Jordan Bachynski should develop into one of the top post players in the Pac-12 and Jon Gilling and Shaq McKissic are solid starters. If Jermaine Marshall is healthy throughout the year, I believe the Sun Devils have the potential to have one of the best starting fives in the Pac-12. So much of college basketball is about depth and getting help from role players, but on the surface, this Arizona State team should be able to run with just about anyone.
Josh Nacion: I can definitely see Arizona State finishing fourth in the Pac-12 in the regular season behind Arizona, Oregon and UCLA. With improved depth and some questions regarding the other teams in the conference, it's hard to imagine how the Sun Devils would finish even around the same they were last season. ASU will probably get the fourth seed in the Pac-12 Tournament and won't get out until the semifinals. Carson will win the Pac-12 Player of the Year and I expect Bachynski and Shaquielle McKissic to get on the All-Defensive Teams.
Honestly, I'd be surprised if ASU doesn't get in to the NCAA tournament. As I mentioned above, the Sun Devils are much deeper and should be much more than the two-man show they were last season. With ASU getting a ton of transfers who will probably stick around for just one year, it makes the Sun Devils much more experienced and hungrier to win those close ball games they couldn't win last year. ASU got criticized last season for having an easy non-conference schedule. What it has scheduled now should help its SOS and a lot of those are winnable games. Where the Sun Devils get out in the NCAA Tournament really depends on their seed, but I can't seem them going further than the Sweet Sixteen.
Nick Krueger: Yes, I think that Arizona State will get into the tournament and lose in the sweet 16. You cannot teach speed, nor can the other team's scout team replicate it in practice. No team in the entire country runs as fast as ASU, they have to take advantage of that. With Carson at the helm and probably the best cast and crew he could of asked for around him, this team should fit comfortably into the tournament as a nine or ten seed.
Mauricio Casillas: I think ASU will finish 4th in the Pac-12 behind UA, UCLA and Stanford. This team will surprise people, but ultimately their lack of depth will be their demise. I think they will be on the bubble going into the Pac-12 tourney, but they will make it to the semis and solidify their NCAA tournament hopes. This team will go as far as Carson can take them.
This team has the talent to beat any Pac-12 team on any given night. At the same time, I think their lack of depth will make them extremely inconsistent. They have opportunities to get wins against quality opponents (Marquette, Arizona, UCLA, DePaul) they just have to make sure they don't lose the ones they're supposed to win.
Ben Haber: Yes, I think Arizona State gets into the NCAA tournament. I'm a huge believer in this team. ASU was on the bubble in 2012 and the 2013 team clearly surpasses them talent wise. An improved Jahii Carson will get the spotlight he deserves and he will carry the Sun Devils back to March Madness.
Ryan Bafaloukos: When the dust settles on this season I think Arizona State will hear their name called on selection Sunday. The Sun Devils are an improve team this season, despite losing Carrick Felix. Arizona State should be deeper and more athletic this season than a year ago. I also think that the non-conference schedule sets up well for Arizona State to get one or two keys wins, whether it is Marquette, Creighton or another team in the Wooden Legacy Classic. I think Arizona State will win around 22-25 games and find themselves into the tournament and I think they will fight to get into the second weekend of the NCAA tournament.