(USA Today Sports Images)Arizona State might need to win the Pac-12 Conference tournament to get into the NCAA tournament. The Sun Devils remain a long shot to pull it off, but they kept their hopes alive with an entertaining overtime victory over Stanford in the first round today.
And a freshman led the way.
It only gets tougher from here. ASU will face No. 1 seed UCLA in a quarterfinal game on Thursday. Beating the Bruins would certainly help improve an NCAA tournament resume short on quality wins outside the conference.
The Sun Devils haven't beaten a ranked opponent all season, but they have faced on three. Chalk that up to bad timing in some regards. The only ranked Pac-12 opponent they faced this season was Arizona, which was ranked both times the Sun Devils lost to the Wildcats.
They have a chance to earn their first victory over a ranked foe Thursday. The Bruins are No. 21 in this week's Associate Press poll, but even with an upset, the Sun Devils will likely need a semifinal win as well to prove they belong in the NCAA field. Wednesday's win was the start they needed.