The Arizona State Sun Devils first started playing basketball in 1920, but it took until 1958 for them to appear in their first NCAA Tournament game. Arizona State reached the Big Dance again in 1961, a start of four consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament, which happened to be a program best. Overall, the Sun Devils have appeared in over 12 NCAA tournaments, winning more than 10 games and reaching the Elite Eight three times.
The Sun Devils made their first basketball impact in 1961 when they reached their first Elite Eight behind head coach Ned Wulk. Wulk has been the most successful coach in Arizona State’s history, winning over 400 games, coaching the team to three Elite Eight appearances, and achieving their highest ranking in program history at #3 in 1982. The Sun Devils returned to the Elite Eight again under the direction of Wulk two seasons later, but once again came up short. Arizona State went 12 years between Elite Eight appearances and have not reached the Regional Final since 1975.
The Sun Devils have been very inconsistent in terms of appearing in the NCAA Tournament. Since their legendary head coach Ned Wulk left the program after the 1981-1982 season, Arizona State has only made the NCAA Tournament five times. However, since the hire of Herb Sendek, the Sun Devils have started to turn the basketball program around and snapped their four season drought of missing the tournament in 2014.
Arizona State Sun Devils Recent NCAA Tourament History
In 2014, Arizona State appeared in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. The Sun Devils finished the season 21-11 to earn the 10 seed in the tournament and squared off against the 7 seed Texas Longhorns. Unfortunately, Arizona State’s stay in the tournament was short lived as they dropped a heartbreaker to the Longhorns 87-85 in which Texas won on a buzzer beater. Even in defeat, the Sun Devils won 20 games for consecutive seasons as they try to resurrect the basketball program.