The beginning of the season for Oregon State has not been a pretty one to say the least. On Sunday, the Beavers were stunned by the Portland Pilots in a 53-45 upset. While this loss was disappointing on its own, it was just the latest in a 2016-17 campaign in which the Beavers can’t sniff a solid win.
The loss to Portland marked the ninth loss in ten games and fifth straight overall for the Beavers. It’s not as if these losses have been due to a difficult schedule. The best team Oregon State has played all season is Mountain West Conference competitor Nevada, which beat the Beavers in a 25-point blowout. Some of the Beavers worst losses have come to teams such as Long Beach State, Charlotte, and Lamar. The worst one however, came in a 93-90 overtime loss to Savannah State. The Tigers have a current ranking of 339 out of 351 ranked teams on KenPom.com. The loss to Savannah State looks especially worse when Pac-12 and in-state rival Oregon Ducks beat the Tigers by 69 just eight days prior.
Of course, there are some reasons for Oregon State’s horrible start. Star player Tres Tinkle has been sidelined for nearly a month with a broken wrist. The team is also very young with nine underclassmen and only one senior. The lone senior, Cheikh N’diaye, is only playing 10.8 minutes per game, so the weight of the team falls on the young players. While Tinkle’s injury has been damaging to the team, it can’t take the full blame for the Beaver’s poor start. Tinkle’s injury occurred during the game that the Beavers dropped to 2-5 on the season. Sadly for Beavers fans, Tinkle’s return may not be enough for the Beavers to win games once conference play begins.
This year’s Oregon State team has had such a poor start that it is drawing comparisons to the Rutgers team of 2015-16. Rutgers started the season 6-7, and then lost its first 17 games in conference play before winning its final regular season game. This comparison may find to be inaccurate, but not in the way Beavers’ fans would hope. Rutgers had a below .500 record, but it was only 6-7 when it began conference play. Rutgers also played four teams ranked higher on KenPom.com than Nevada, Oregon State’s most difficult opponent so far. The way the Beavers handle conference play will decide whether the team will fall into the wrong side of history for college basketball, or just has a forgettable season.
Through twelve games, the Beavers have shown to be the worst team in the Pac-12 and one of the most underachieving teams in college basketball. The Beavers have not beaten a good team this season, and have lost to teams that are of the same caliber of the ones they have beaten. Oregon State have a chance to slightly improve its record with their final non-conference game against Kent State on Wednesday. The Beavers will play USC a week later to open up conference play, where they will look to avoid being one of the worst Power-5 teams in recent memory.