Despite the NCAA Tournament ending just a few days ago, ESPN resident bracketologist Joe Lunardi has wasted no time in already projecting the “Field of 68” for next season. However, contrary to an overwhelming amount of optimism surrounding the Oregon State program heading into the 2017-2018 campaign, the Beavers have been left noticeably absent from his initial “Bracketology” projections.
The lack of inclusion for the Beavers could be strongly attributed to the team’s disastrous 2016-2017 season, in which they went 5-27 overall, winning just once in conference play and dropping out-of-league games to the likes of Lamar, Long Beach State, Savannah State and Portland. That mark of futility, along with the possibility that next year’s team will likely be molded by the same core of players, is enough of a reason for most of the national media to err on the side of caution in regard to Oregon State. However, we can definitely think differently of them here at Building The Dam.
Knowing that a healthy Tres Tinkle could return to the mix for Oregon State and combine with Drew Eubanks (who developed rapidly in his absence), gives the Beavers a strong chance to have one of the tougher interior duos in all of the Pac-12. That front-court strength, combined with backcourt talents such as the brotherly combination of Stephen Thompson Jr. and newcomer Ethan Thompson (both sons of Oregon State assistant coach Stephen Thompson) will at least give head coach Wayne Tinkle a starting point to build around. From there, a player like Jaquori McLaughlin could have a breakthrough campaign in a role more suited to his skill-set, just as big man Gligorije Rakocevic could, when not be asking to contribute so much on a nightly basis.
With other pieces scattered in (Alfred Hollins, Ronnie Stacy, Ben Kone, Zach Reichle and maybe Kendal Manuel), Oregon State may have the ability to play up to ten serviceable guys on any given night and that mix of talent and depth is the reason we didn’t stray away from including the Beavers in the “Next Ten” section of our recently released “Way-Too-Early 2017-2018 College Basketball Top 25”.
While Oregon State failed to make the initial cut of “Bracketology”, four other teams from the Pac-12 conference were included in the initial projections, including Arizona (#1 seed in West Region), Oregon (#3 seed in Mid-West Region), UCLA (#4 seed in East Region) and USC (#9 seed in Mid-West Region). This past season, those four same teams were the conference’s representatives in the big dance as well, while California, Colorado and Utah all found their post-season fortunes in the NIT.
Oregon State will be hoping to return to the NCAA Tournament in 2018 for the first time since the 2015-2016 season, when newly-signed Milwaukee Bucks guard Gary Payton II aided the team to their first trip to the big dance in over 25 years.
To see the full NCAA Tournament field projected in “Bracketology”, click here.