With a wild 86-82 victory at UCLA on Saturday, the Beavers earned the crucial split they needed to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive. They conclude regular season play with an 18-11 record, including a 9-9 mark in conference play. That alone could be enough to get them into the dance, but a win in the Pac-12 tourney would be huge.
And the Beavers have extra motivation. They face Arizona State at 8:30 p.m. tonight in tournament. The Sun Devils routed the them, 86-68, back on January 28 in Tempe, OSU’s worst loss of the season. ASU has been hot of late, but they should be less of hurdle than say Oregon, Cal, or Arizona.
At a glance, the Beavers need to avoid another slow start against ASU, as the Sun Devils raced out to a 21-6 lead with 10 minutes left in the first half during the teams’ previous meeting. OSU also needs prevent ASU’s guards from penetrating at will this time around as they constantly broke down the Beavers’ defensive scheme. And finally, Gary Payton II needs to bust loose. He was held to a season-low two points. The good news is, I don’t see there being a repeat of most of this Wednesday night.
If the Beavers can defeat ASU, I think without a doubt they will make the NCAA tournament. Nineteen wins, combined with their strength of schedule and the Payton storyline would be hard to ignore. And while I’d be happy for the Beavers to even get one of the play-in games, it would be great if they could sneak in a higher seed. It would just seem more legit 🙂
But I shouldn’t get too greedy. After all, it’s been 26 years since the Beavers last made the big dance. How awesome would it be to finally enjoy March Madness with the Beavers — and to fill out a bracket with the Beavers in it! I’d have to keep myself from penciling them into the Final Four.
Here’s to a strong showing in the Pac-12 Tournament. And a happy Selection Sunday for the Beavers! (RW)