15 seed Troy (20-12, 12-8 in the Sun Belt) at 2 seed #6 Oregon State (28-4, 16-2 in the Pac-12) / Gill Coliseum, Corvallis, OR / 2 PM PDT / ESPN2 / KEJO 1240 AM
Oregon State, the Pac-12 regular season and tournament champions, open NCAA Tournament play today, hosting Troy from the Sun Belt Conference, in the first game of the Corvallis sub-regional of the Dallas Regional.
Last year, the Beavers similarly hosted a first weekend, but though they won their opener, were unable to advance to the Regionals. That, and a similarly unexpected upsetting flop in the Pac-12 Tournament, motivated a team that returned all but 1 player this season.
After again winning the regular season, a more focused Oregon State squad swept through Seattle to their first ever Pac-12 Tournament title. The Beavers bested USC by 10 points, held on to edge Washington by 2, and then won the season's rubber match with UCLA 69-57 to wrap up the title and retain a 2 seed.
The Trojans roll into Corvallis on a roll, having won 8 games in a row. After finishing 4th in the Sun Belt in the regular season, but 7 games back, Troy took care of 5th place South Alabama to start their conference tournament, but then put together a great back to back pair of games. The Trojans first beat Sun Belt regular season champion Arkansas State, which had rolled to a 19-1 conference record, and was 26-4 coming in, 96-86, and then followed up with a 61-60 win over defending Sun Belt champion Arkansas Little Rock, who was the second seed in the tournament.
That knocked both the Arkansas schools out of the NCAAs into the WNIT, and earned Troy just their second trip to the NCAAs ever. And the other one came pre-Sun Belt, back in 1997 when they were in the now non-existent Mid-Continent conference, which became what we now know of as the Summit League.
The winner will await the outcome of today's second game, between St. Bonaventure and Oklahoma State at 4:30 PM. The time for the matchup of today's winners on Sunday will be announced once the brackets play out, and the tv schedule is set to best ratings advantage.
Oregon State fans will be looking for 2, not 1, more home games for their starting senior trio of Pac-12 Player of the Year Jamie Weisner, Ruth Hamblin, and Deven Hunter, and for Hamblin, the 2 time Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, to pad her already conference all-time record for blocked shots.