ASU Basketball: March Madness slipping away as RPI drops to 87

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The 20 wins look great on paper, but strength of schedule and an RPI of 87 betrays ASU.

The Sun Devils have gone 3-3 in their last six games, with damaging losses to Stanford, Utah and Washington somewhat balanced out with big wins against California and Colorado. ASU's RPI took a beating recently, and they sit with an RPI of 87 going into the final stretch.

Unfortunately, with ASU currently 20-8, they are in need of a winning streak to close out the regular season to even have a chance at playing in the NCAA Tournament this season. With games on the road against UCLA, USC and Arizona, the Devils still have a real opportunity to impress the selection committee and get some more signature road wins.

Without further ado, your RPI update for February 25, thanks to the information from CBS Sports:

Overall Record = 20-8

Pac-12 Record = 9-6

Home Record = 15-4

Away Record = 4-3

Neutral Record = 1-1

Top 50 Record = 2-3

RPI = 87

SOS = 124

Signature Wins (RPI 1-30) = Colorado (29), @ Colorado (29)

Quality Wins (RPI 31-100) = UCLA (42), California (45), Arkansas (80)

Bad Losses (RPI 101 or greater) = @ Utah (177), DePaul (182)

Quick Analysis: The 20 wins look great on paper, but the strength of schedule betrays ASU. The preventable losses in conference play have exposed some flaws, including weak interior defense and poor free throw shooting. With no signature wins out of conference play and an ugly loss to DePaul hanging over the Sun Devils like an albatross, we continue to believe that Arizona State must end the season with 24 wins to make it to March Madness.

In order to do that, ASU must win the final three games of the regular season and at least one game in the Pac-12 Tournament, or win two and make a deep conference tournament run. Either way, it's an uphill battle after a bad loss on senior night to Washington.

Next up for the Sun Devils: This week, two huge road games against UCLA and USC. The Sun Devils made the Bruins look silly in Tempe earlier this winter, and you know UCLA hasn't forgotten. Expect a spirited battle from a talented team in Westwood. The weekend finale against the Trojans will be another tough game. No doubt about it: ASU needs a sweep.

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