Sunday afternoon the Beavers hung tough against eighth ranked Arizona, but couldn’t pull off an upset in the end, with the Wildcats prevailing 73-61. The loss drops the Beavers to 11-7 overall, and with the toughest stretch of their season coming up Oregon State’s chances at an NCAA Tournament berth are shrinking.
In their last bracketology prediction, ESPN had the Beavers as one of the last four teams in the tournament. That was before back to back losses against Arizona State and Arizona, and the Beavers next 4 games are home and away series against Stanford and Oregon.
The Cardinal are currently ranked 2nd in the nation, and the Ducks are 24th. Combined with the losses to the Arizona schools, it seems very possible that the Beavers could go on a six game losing streak in the final stretch of the season. After that stretch, the Beavers have games scheduled against Cal, Utah and Colorado, all winnable games, but none of them a sure thing.
In the last few tournaments, the NCAA has selected at least six Pac-12 schools, and currently the Beavers sit seventh in the rankings. The NCAA picked seven Pac-12 schools back in 2017, but that’s probably the upper limit, especially this year when the middle of the conference is eating itself alive.
Stanford, Arizona and Oregon seem set for tournament berths. After that comes the pack. Arizona State, Oregon State, UCLA and Utah all sit at .500, with Washington State just ahead at .600 and Colorado just behind at .400. That’s six teams fighting for probably three slots.
Oregon State isn’t the only team in that group with a tough schedule. Looking at games against the Pac-12’s ranked teams, Wazzu also has two games against Oregon, and one each against Stanford and Arizona. Utah and Colorado each have one each against Stanford and Oregon. Arizona State has a home and away series with Arizona. UCLA has a game each against Oregon and Arizona.
So WSU and OSU have four, and everyone else has two each. And most of the schools still have a couple games left against the team’s still in the mix. Even if OSU is swept by Stanford and Oregon, they’ve got a shot if they can run the table in their remaining games and any postponed games that get added back into the schedule. OSU still has a home game against Utah waiting to be rescheduled and a road trip to Salt Lake in a couple weeks. A sweep over the Utes would be huge for the Beavers.
The losses to ASU and WSU on the Beavers schedule certainly hurt, but the Cougars are also poised to potentially pick up 4 losses against the top of the conference. Arizona State looks pretty solid, especially after picking up a win over the Ducks last weekend. Even if they fail to take a game off the Wildcats, they’ve still got games against Washington, Cal and USC on their schedule, and should be safe.
Of course, the best thing Oregon State could do for their chances would be to pick up a game over Stanford or Oregon. Stanford looks almost impossible to beat now, with the Cardinal undefeated in conference play and on a 10 game winning streak.
The Ducks are another matter. Like OSU, Oregon was swept by the Arizona schools last weekend, and now finds themselves on a two game losing streak. The Beavers almost always play the Ducks tough, especially in Corvallis, so there’s an excellent opportunity for Oregon State to pick up a quality win if they can sharpen up their shooting and stop committing turnovers.
A good showing in the conference tournament would also do wonders for Oregon State’s tournament resume.
So what do you think? How do you like Oregon State’s odds headed into the final stretch?