While aspirations remained high for most of the 2018-2019 season that this would be the campaign in which the Oregon State men’s basketball program returned to the NCAA Tournament, the Beavers simply didn’t do enough at the end of the day to warrant their place in the big dance.
Instead, head coach Wayne Tinkle and company will likely to have to settle for a bid to the NIT on Selection Sunday.
The Beavers have only themselves to blame, as they dropped five of their last seven games overall to end the season, including a second-round exit in the Pac-12 Tournament to Colorado.
Oregon State missed multiple chances along the way to string together enough victories to fix their lackluster resume, including squandering a March 6th overtime effort to Washington - which would’ve given them a signature victory - and taking in a 23-point loss to Stanford on February 7th.
Oregon State’s vanilla non-conference slate also wasn’t helped by their four out-of-league losses, which came at the hands of Missouri, Saint Louis, Texas A&M and Kent State. Combined, those four teams tallied 57 losses this season, including Missouri and Texas A&M ending up a collaborative 29-35 and finishing in the bottom four of the SEC.
Looking ahead, the focus of this group will be put to the test to see what exactly playing post-season basketball means to a program that’s still looking to find it’s place in a very fluid Pac-12. The Beavers haven’t competed in the NIT (National Invitation Tournament) since 2005, when Jay John’s boys fell to Cal State Fullerton on a buzzer-beater in the first round of the tournament.
A trip this season to the NIT would also be a first in the coaching career of Wayne Tinkle.
Besides Oregon State’s trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2016, the Beavers recent history of post-season play has been prosaic. Under previous head coach Craig Robinson, Oregon State competed in the less-heralded CBI (College Basketball Invitational) four times, including winning the tournament in 2009.
Tinkle has only guided the Beavers to one post-season appearance (2016 NCAA Tournament) in his five seasons directing the program.
The full NIT bracket will be released on Selection Sunday following the reveal of the NCAA Tournament bracket. The NIT field consists of 32 teams, with each of the higher-seeded teams in every game hosting their opponents (pending availability) until the NIT “Final Four”, which is hosted at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Last year, a fourth-seeded Penn State squad knocked off a second-seeded Utah team, 82-66, to claim the title. The last Pac-12 team to win the NIT was Stanford back in 2015.