In Bobby Hurley's first year in Tempe, the Arizona State Sun Devils had the 12th-toughest nonconference schedule, according to ESPN.
ASU released its nonconference schedule Thursday for its second season under Hurley, and much like last season, the slate is brutal.
The Sun Devils will play three teams who won or shared conference titles last season in Kentucky (SEC), San Diego State (MWC) and New Mexico State (WAC). They will also multiple games in the Caribbean: Kentucky in the Bahamas and three games in Puerto Rico for the Puerto Rico Tip-Off. ASU will also head to New York City to play Purdue in the Jimmy V Classic.
To recap, ASU's 2016 non-conf sked includes:— Doug Haller (@DougHaller) July 1, 2016
-Puerto Rico Classic
-Purdue in NYC
-at San Diego St
-New Mexico St
The Sun Devils notched a high-ranking RPI and light tournament buzz last season after a strong 10-3 nonconference run that included road wins over Creighton, UNLV and a home-win over then-No. 18 Texas A&M.
ASU will have another chance to do the same thing this year. CBS Sports' Gary Parish named three ASU opponents in his early Top-25 (and one): Kentucky, Purdue and Creighton. That number jumps to four if ASU plays Xavier in Puerto Rico.
The toughest stretch will likely be from November 28 to December 20 in which ASU will play Kentucky, UNLV, Purdue, at San Diego State, New Mexico State and Creighton. Still, Hurley proved last season he could do more than well with a roster that wasn't quite yet shaped in his image.
With the big-time recruit Sam Cunliffe in town and redshirt junior guard Shannon Evans available - as well as several others - this ASU team should be an upgrade over the squad that finished 15-17 last season.