When Bobby Hurley's Sun Devils got off to the best start in program history (12-0) and matched their highest-ever national ranking (No. 3), their entry into the 2018 NCAA Tournament seemed like a lock.
Fast-forward two and a half months later: After going 8-10 in Pac-12 play and bowing out in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament on Wednesday, the Sun Devils' hopes for their first NCAA Tournament bid since 2014 are very much up in the air.
ASU notched two of the most impressive wins throughout all of college basketball this season, vs. Xavier in a neutral-site game and in a true road game at Kansas. Both of those teams are likely to be No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament.
Hurley reminded the media of this fact following Wednesday's 97-85 loss to Colorado, ASU's first double-digit loss of the season.
"I felt like we were in the Tournament coming into this game regardless of the outcome," he said. "We were the last undefeated team in college basketball. We went and played high-level opponents on the road and on (neutral sites). We beat two regular-season conference champions and most likely No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, and we did it pretty handily in those games."
And despite their struggles in Pac-12 play, Hurley noted some of ASU's conference victories weren't too shabby, either.
"Our record was not exactly what I had hoped for, but we had played so many close games and couldn't get over the hump in some of them, which contributed to our regular-season record," he said. "But we did win (big games). We swept LA schools (USC and UCLA) and we won on the road at Utah.
"Now, there is going to be debate about that, and with good reason, because we didn't finish the season the way I'd hoped. But, again, we lost some close ones, some games that could have gone either way."
Like Hurley, ASU's players believe they've done enough to warrant a bid to the Big Dance. But they realize their fate now lies with the selection committee, which will announce the 68-team NCAA Tournament field Sunday.
Until then, all the Devils can do is wait and hope that the committee will give the Devils one more chance to show the nation that their impressive victories during the 2017-18 season were no fluke.
“I definitely think we’re a Tournament team," freshman guard Remy Martin said. "But it is what it is. We’ll just have to see.”
"I really don't know," senior guard Shannon Evans said. "But I hope so."
"We've definitely shown what we're capable of," sophomore forward Mickey Mitchell said. "It's just been a stretch where we haven't played our best basketball. But I think our best is still yet to come."