Strength of schedule plays a large role in determining whether or not a team makes the NCAA tournament. Each team must strike a delicate balance of scheduling winnable games and tough opponents that will do well in their respective conferences. The Sun Devils think they have found the right formula for next season.
Arizona State will start off with Chicago State and Bethune-Cookman before traveling to Kansas City, Mo. to take part in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic where they will face two teams out of the crop of Iowa State, Alabama and Maryland depending on the draw.
"Just taking a step back and looking at the selection committee they seem to keep putting more and more emphasis on who do you play in the non-conference," head coach Herb Sendek said. "So even though we'll have to reinvent ourselves with a number of new players I think its essential once again that we play a really tough non conference schedule."
The schedule will also include games against UNLV and Harvard at home. Last November the Sun Devils traveled to the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas where Jahii Carson dropped 40 points in an 86-80 win over the Runnin' Rebels.
Arizona State will also travel to Marquette and Sendek revealed that the team will travel to Texas A&M on Dec. 6. Marquette came to Tempe last season and in one of the most memorable games of the year, Jordan Bachynski blocked a shot at the last possible second to give the Sun Devils a 79-77 win.
The strength of the Pac-12 conference which included six teams in the NCAA tournament also helped Arizona State. The Sun Devils last 15 opponents last season were all ranked inside the top 100 in RPI. The rest of the Sun Devils out of conference opponents next year include Loyola-Marymount, Pepperdine, Lehigh and Colgate.
"This year I thought our schedule was really challenging," Sendek said. "Our non-conference schedule I think was looked at favorably on Selection Sunday and then obviously we were carried by the tremendous strength of the conference."
End of 2013-14 season RPI for Arizona State out-of-conference opponents next season:
Chicago State: 259
Texas A&M: 148
Iowa State: 7