What are the odds?
It’s a question Arizona State women’s basketball coach Charli Turner Thorne has heard repeatedly this week from journalists, players and probably in her own head.
What are the odds the Sun Devils will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament when the field is announced this afternoon?
Turner Thorne’s best guess right now, is no guess at all.
"I have no idea," Turner Thorne said after practice Friday. "There’s probably 10 or 12 teams out there (the tournament selection committee is) considering for three or four spots, and it’s anybody’s guess the things they’ll be discussing."
There may be more than those three or four slots still in play, but the number of teams sharing the proverbial bubble with the Sun Devils is likely also a bit higher. Among the usual variables beyond record commonly discussed are RPI, strength of schedule, quality wins, bad losses and recent play.
The last two categories could come back to haunt ASU. The Sun Devils were just 5-5 in their last 10 games and lost their last three, including a 75-72 loss to Washington State (RPI 227) in their regular season finale. It’s the Sun Devils only loss to a team with an RPI less than 63.
The Sun Devils have to hope the committee takes into account their play before the final three games — a victory in Pullman, Wash., would likely have pushed them over the top — and the extenuating circumstances of the Washington swing. Throughout the season teams keep the NCAA up-to-date on injuries and other situations that could explain otherwise inexplicable losses.
The Washington State loss occurred with the Sun Devils minus their top bench player — freshman Emily Westerberg — and after an emotional Washington loss that ended with Washington’s Gioconda Mendiola striking ASU point guard Kylan Loney.
Additionally, leading scorer Betsy Boardman suffered an season-ending knee injury late in the Washington State game.
"Our RPI was in the 20s and 30s down the stretch until the Washington trip, so obviously we were a team slotted to go," Turner Thorne said. "We played a very tough schedule. We competed well against it. We had a good conference record and beat all the top teams in our conference, except USC."
There is one more factor in the Sun Devils favor. ASU’s Wells Fargo Arena is a regional host and if selected, the Sun Devils will stay at home where they’re 13-1.
"If they want a team that’s playing well, stick us at home, and we’ll play well," Turner Thorne said.
In the meantime, the Sun Devils practice and wait to find out if they’ll be NCAA or NIT-bound.
"(Sunday’s) going to come soon enough," junior guard Carrie Buckner said. "Either way we know we’re going to be playing."