After a bitter loss to USC in the Pac-12 Championship, the OSU women's basketball team this Monday afternoon received some good news with their first NCAA Tournament invite since 1996, in which the Beavers also last matched their best conference finish. Oregon State's overall 23 wins was the best since the 1982-83 season, and this invite to the Big Dance, the Beavers' first in 18 years, is apt reward for one of the best finishes to the regular season in program history.
The Beavs opponent will be the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders from Conference USA. The Blue Raiders finished their season strongly winning their sixth in a row Conference USA title and completed the season ranked #22 in the country. Middle Tennessee started the season 1 and 3, defeating Miami, FL but losing to Tennessee, Arkansas, and Kentucky. The two teams did not play any common opponents but with both OSU and Middle Tennessee playing strong at the end of the season it figures to be a challenging and interesting match-up.
[Correction: Both Middle Tennessee and Oregon State did play Clemson (13-19). The Blue Raiders defeated Clemson 76-51 on December 29th and the week before, December 21st, the Beavers defeated the Tigers 74-41. Thanks to Ednold on catching that, and I agree that this still implies an interesting match up for this first round game.]
If the Beavs win their opening game they would most likely pull a tough second possible match-up on Tuesday evening against the #1 seed South Carolina (27 and 4) who faces Cal State-Northridge (18 and 14) in their opening round game.
Other Pac-12 seeds include: regular season conference champion Stanford as a #2 seed in the Stanford region and plays South Dakota in their opener; Pac-12 Tournament champion USC is a #9 seed in the Louisville region and will play St. John's; California received a #7 seed will play Fordham in the Notre Dame region; and Arizona State plays also in the Notre Dame region as a #9 seed against Vanderbilt.