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How Oregon State Can Make the NCAA Tournament

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What does recent history tell us about Pac-12 teams going to the Big Dance?

@BeaverMBB

We all know the story by now.

1988: Oregon State goes 20-11 overall and earns a 12-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Gary Payton leads the Beavers with season per-game averages of 14.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 7.4 assists, and 2.3 steals.

They lose in the first round to 5-seed Louisville.

1989: Oregon State goes 22-8 overall and earns a 6-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Gary Payton leads the Beavers with season per-game averages of 20.1 points, 4.1 rebounds, 8.1 assists, and 3.0 steals.

They lose in the first round to 11-seed Evansville.

1990: Oregon State goes 22-7 overall and earns a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament. Gary Payton leads the Beavers with season per-game averages of 25.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 8.1 assists, and 3.4 steals.

They lose in the first round to 12-seed Ball State.

1991-2015: A 26-year span that saw Oregon State earn zero NCAA Tournament appearances.

2016: Oregon State goes 19-12 overall and earns a 7-seed in the NCAA Tournament. The son of Gary Payton—Gary Payton II—leads the Beavers with season per-game averages of 16.0 points, 7.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists, and 2.5 steals.

They lose in the first round to 10-seed VCU.


Time for a little tough love: there are no recruits named Gary Payton heading this way. It's not happening. There's not a GP3—at least not yet—hooping his way toward Corvallis. If Wayne Tinkle is going to coach Oregon State to another NCAA Tournament berth then he must do it with his guys, with his recruits.

Players like: Drew Eubanks, Tres Tinkle, Stephen Thompson Jr., Ethan Thompson, and Alfred Hollins.

But what exactly does Oregon State need to accomplish to make sure that the program doesn't go another 26 years without an appearance in the NCAA Tournament? What does recent selection history tell us about the win totals needed or the conference placement required to earn a spot in the Big Dance?

Let's look at how the Pac-12 was represented in the last five NCAA Tournaments.


2017: A total of four Pac-12 teams made the NCAA Tournament.

2-seed Arizona (30-4 overall) - 2nd in the Pac-12, 3-0 in the Pac-12 tournament.

3-seed Oregon (29-5 overall) - 1st in the Pac-12, 2-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

3-seed UCLA (29-4 overall) - 3rd in the Pac-12, 1-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

11-seed USC (25-9 overall) - 6th in the Pac-12, 1-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

Arizona v Oregon Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

2016: A total of seven Pac-12 teams made the NCAA Tournament.

1-seed Oregon (28-6 overall) - 1st in the Pac-12, 3-0 in the Pac-12 tournament.

3-seed Utah (26-8 overall) - 2nd in the Pac-12, 2-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

4-seed California (23-10 overall) - 3rd in the Pac-12, 1-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

6-seed Arizona (25-8 overall) - 4th in the Pac-12, 1-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

7-seed Oregon State (19-12 overall) - 6th in the Pac-12, 1-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

8-seed Colorado (22-11 overall) - 5th in the Pac-12, 1-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

8-seed USC (21-12 overall) - 7th in the Pac-12, 1-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

Utah v Oregon Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

2015: A total of four Pac-12 teams made the NCAA Tournament.

2-seed Arizona (31-3 overall) - 1st in the Pac-12, 3-0 in the Pac-12 tournament.

5-seed Utah (24-8 overall) - 3rd in the Pac-12, 1-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

8-seed Oregon (25-9 overall) - 2nd in the Pac-12, 2-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

11-seed UCLA (20-13 overall) - 4th in the Pac-12, 1-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

Oregon v Arizona Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

2014: A total of six Pac-12 teams made the NCAA Tournament.

1-seed Arizona (30-4 overall) - 1st in the Pac-12, 2-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

4-seed UCLA (26-8 overall) - 2nd in the Pac-12, 3-0 in the Pac-12 tournament.

7-seed Oregon (23-9 overall) - 7th in the Pac-12, 1-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

8-seed Colorado (23-11 overall) - 5th in the Pac-12, 2-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

10-seed Arizona State (21-11 overall) - 3rd in the Pac-12, 0-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

10-seed Stanford (21-12 overall) - 6th in the Pac-12, 2-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

UCLA v Arizona Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

2013: A total of five Pac-12 teams made the NCAA Tournament.

6-seed UCLA (25-9 overall) - 1st in the Pac-12, 2-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

6-seed Arizona (25-7 overall) - 4th in the Pac-12, 1-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

10-seed Colorado (21-11 overall) - 5th in the Pac-12, 1-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

12-seed Oregon (26-8 overall) - 3rd in the Pac-12, 3-0 in the Pac-12 tournament.

12-seed California (20-11 overall) - 2nd in the Pac-12, 0-1 in the Pac-12 tournament.

Pac 12 Basketball Tournament - UCLA v Oregon Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images

What does any of this mean? What information can we gather from these numbers?

In the last five years, an average of 5.2 Pac-12 teams made the NCAA Tournament.

Of the 26 teams that have qualified for the Big Dance in that span, only two failed to win at least one game in the conference tournament.

The average win-loss record of all 26 NCAA Tournament teams is 24.5 wins, 8.6 losses. However, the average win-loss record of each year's worst record among chosen teams is 21.0 wins, 11.4 losses.

The average conference placement of the lowest selected team each year is 5.8, so we can confidently say that in most cases a 5th-place finish in regular season play is a solid spot to be in.

How does Oregon State make the NCAA Tournament?

The Beavers win 20 regular season games, finish no worse than 5th in the regular-season standings, and get at least one win in the Pac-12 tournament.

And they do it without anyone named Gary Payton.