Coming into the season, most media members and Sun Devil fans pegged the Arizona State basketball team as a tournament team. The Sun Devils were bringing back Jahii Carson and Jordan Bachynski. They were adding Jermaine Marshall, Calean Robinson and Shaq McKissic.
Arizona State has had an up-and-down first 18 games. The Sun Devils have won most of the games they were supposed to win. However, the Sun Devils have lost their three games against RPI top 50 competition by a combined 66 points.
So, we asked our writers if Arizona State has met its preseason expectations after 18 games of the 2013-2014 season.
Nick Krueger: This team has fallen somewhat short of my expectations so far. The Sun Devils continue to be inconsistent but the losses in the Wooden Legacy to Creighton and Miami don't seem nearly as bad as they once did and the loss to Washington seems less damaging to the ASU conference season than it did just two short weeks ago. When this season ends, I believe this team has probably lost every game it has deserved to lose so far.
The maroon and gold have just looked incredibly flustered and sloppy in those losses, especially at UCLA and against Washington. ASU has looked lost at points and caused me to lose some faith in this group's abilities. The Sun Devils took care of everyone they should have in out-of-conference play, but they are getting blown out in losses that should be at least a little closer.
My expectations probably would have fallen somewhat short regardless, but the margin of how short sighted they've been in my mind would have been more minimal if the five losses to this point in the season would have been more competitive.
ASU has the biggest week of the season to date when Utah and Colorado come to town. I don't believe there is any doubt that this team's tournament chances and the job security of Herb Sendek will certainly deserve a harder look if the Utes and Buffaloes hand the Sun Devils two losses on their own court.
Mauricio Casillas: Arizona State has beaten every team it was supposed to beat (with the exception of Miami), and lost every game it was supposed to. This team has not exceeded my expectations nor fallen short of my expectations. Rather, this team is exactly where I expected it to be.
This will be a critical week for the Sun Devils in conference play. Wins over Utah and Colorado, would give the team a lot of momentum going forward, but two losses could be devastating for their tournament hopes.
I still don't think this team has played a complete game in conference play. This is a team that lacks depth and if any starters get into foul trouble or are in a shooting funk, the team suffers.
If Jordan Bachynski can stay out of foul trouble, if Jahii Carson can get back into a scoring groove, and if Jermaine Marshall is healthy, then this team has a good chance of beating any Pac-12 team on any given night. Ultimately, I think this will be a very telling week for the hoops team. With a 2-3 record in conference play, it's time for the team to step up and prove that it deserves a spot in the NCAA tournament.
Cody Ulm: To echo Mauricio's sentiment, these are the Sun Devils I expected to see. Arizona State is a front-loaded team that is capable of hanging with most of the Pac-12 if everything falls exactly the Devils' way. And that's a big if. The blowouts don't surprise me either because the flaws of the team tend to compound on each other when things start going wrong.
The only thing that does surprise is that Arizona State hasn't put everything together to steal one "whoa" victory thus far. Of course, there's plenty of season left be played and I do still believe the Devils are capable of pulling off a few conference upsets.
I just also know that they're just as capable of falling flat on their face against a team they should easily handle. But considering I predicted Arizona State to miss out on the Big Dance, this team currently seems to be right on pace with what I anticipated.
Ryan Bafaloukos: I agree with both Nick and Mauricio. The only games that Arizona State has lost this season that I expected them to win were against Miami and Washington. However, both of those teams are better than we thought they would be, especially Miami, who lost to No. 2 Syracuse by just five points on the road.
However, what concerns me is how non-competitive Arizona State has been in its losses. The Sun Devils were down 24 points in the second half against Washington, they were blown out by UCLA and did not give Creighton a test in the Wooden Tournament.
The fact is Arizona State still has a respectable 13-5 record. However, when the Sun Devils step up in competition they look outclassed and overmatched. However, like Mauricio said, if they can beat Colorado and Utah they put themselves right back into tournament contention.