Arizona State: Sendek, ASU 'taken aback' by NIT field

2013-03-18T00:00:00Z Arizona State: Sendek, ASU 'taken aback' by NIT fieldDoug Haller The Arizona Republic Arizona Daily Star
March 18, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Hours before the National Invitation Tournament announced its 32-team field Sunday, the Arizona State men's basketball team huddled at practice.

Coach Herb Sendek figured the Sun Devils, coming off a quarterfinal loss to UCLA at last week's Pac-12 tournament, might be feeling down, so he rattled off some teams he thought would play in the NIT.

Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee.

"And I think they started realizing how well they're going to have to play in this tournament," Sendek said.

At 7 p.m Wednesday, third-seeded ASU will host No. 6 Detroit at Wells Fargo Arena. For the Sun Devils, it's a chance to finish strong.

On Sunday night, ASU was just starting to scout Detroit (20-12), which finished second in the Horizon League.

Sendek already knew about junior guard Ray McCallum, who averages 18.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. But he was impressed by the overall field, which also included Pac-12 schools Stanford and Washington.

Detroit played a tough non-conference schedule, losing to teams such as Miami, Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

"I'm truly taken aback by how strong this field is," Sendek said. "There are some really good teams, some really good programs. It's just a really strong indicator of how much balance there is in college basketball."

If ASU wins, the Sun Devils would face the winner of No.2 Baylor and No.7 Long Beach State.

This marks the third time ASU has gone to the NIT under Sendek. The Sun Devils advanced to the quarterfinals in 2008 and lost their first game in 2010.

Other Pac-12 teams to make the NIT: Washington and Stanford. The sixth-seeded Huskies play No.3 BYU. The fourth-seeded Cardinal face No.5 Stephen F. Austin.

The tournament's top seeds: Kentucky, Southern Miss, Alabama and Virginia.

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