116 seasons have come and gone since 1901. And the Beavers are now only six losses away from going down as the worst team spanning the last century of program history. At 4-20, their record gives them a win-loss percentage of just .167. The current worst record ever put up by a Beaver team was the Eddie Payne coached ’95-’96 squad that went 4-23, finishing the season with a .148 win-loss percentage. Given that the Beavs have already played and lost to all of our remaining conference opponents, the odds of finishing our first winless conference season since the formation of the Pac-12 have trended significantly upward. Oregon State can win 1 of their final 7 games and still take their place in the record books.
It’s no secret that this has been a bad year. We had 27 turnovers early in the season against Lamar in a loss at Gill. We lost to Savannah State at home. We lost 2 out of 3 games at our own Dam City Classic. In fact, we haven’t won a game since beating Kent State in December at the Classic. That’s 11 losses in a row, with not a single win occurring in 2017.
Just how bad has this season been? Well, for one, we are currently the last remaining Power Five conference school without a conference win. And not only have there been a near-historic amount of losses, some of the losses themselves have been historic in their own right. The loss at Matthew Knight Arena in the first half of this season’s Civil War series was, unfortunately, one of these historic losses. As most fans know, the Civil War’s claim to fame is that it is the most contested rivalry in all of college basketball. No two teams have ever played one another as many times as Oregon has played Oregon State. The game has been played 347 times. And in all 347 times, the Beavers have never once lost a game as lopsided as their 84-43 tumble to rock-bottom. Most humiliatingly of all, the Ducks started the game on a 21-0 run.
Breaking down the actual losses themselves is too painful. It’s not a secret why we’ve been so bad this season: Tres Tinkle and Stephen Thompson’s injuries, lack of depth, poor performance from JUCO transfers, freshmen being put into impossible situations, etc. But some of the losses have hurt more than others. The Beavs are currently 0-9 on the road, despite having started off the season with one of the easiest schedules (based on RPI) in all of college basketball. Three different times this season, Oregon State has failed to score more than 50 points in an entire game. Of the 11 conference games we have lost so far, only 2 of them have been single-digit losses.
And so, here we are. With a chance to make history. We’ve come to a point in the 2016-’17 basketball season where I have, like every 76er’s fan for the last decade, decided it might actually be better to lose every game from here on out than to win one. Why not go big? Why not be the worst team ever? If we’re going to be this bad, we might as well make history. Various journalists have already mentioned that Oregon State’s current season may go down as the worst all-time in the Power Five-era. Oregon State currently sits at 280 in the KenPom rankings, with the next closest Power Five school being Missouri at 188.
But in order to climb that mountain, we must first overcome the hill that is losing at least our last 6 of our last 7 regular season games. Luckily for us, we’ve already lost once to every opponent remaining on our schedule. Up next, we play at USC and then UCLA, which should put us within two games of history. Following that, Oregon State has a slight three game window to ruin everything. Colorado, one of our two single digit-losses and without a doubt the Beaver’s most competitive game against a conference opponent, visits Gill on February 16th. Luckily, red-hot Utah will be the next to come through Corvallis.
And then our last real chance at a conference win comes when we play Stanford at home following the Utah game. Stanford and Washington are the only other Pac-12 teams who have underachieved at a level even remotely close to Oregon State this year. If there’s a game that the record might be most in jeopardy, it would be against the Cardinal.
We finish the season at Cal, who will likely make the tournament, and then at home to end the Civil War against a Ducks team that could end up being a 1-seed in March. We then will have to play as the lowest seed in the Pac-12 tourney against most likely UCLA or Arizona, depending on who skips out on a first-round bye.
Also of note, via Danny Moran of the Oregonian, there still is no timetable for the return of Tres Tinkle. The possibility to appeal to the Pac-12 for a medical redshirt still exists. At this point I have no idea what the argument against doing so possibly could be. Especially with history on the line.