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Oregon State went from Madness to sadness in a stunningly short amount of time


Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle has suffered through a 3-22 year.

Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle has suffered through a 3-22 year.
Image: Getty Images

There’s no doubt as to the identity of college basketball’s worst Power Five Conference team. With an astounding 3-22 record, Oregon State is dreadful. It’s ugly on paper and things look even more shit-tastic when you take a deeper look at said fecal matter. OSU has one win over a high-level conference team, hasn’t won outside of Corvallis the entire season, and is currently on a 12-game losing streak with 10 double-digit losses.

That one win against a prominent-conference team was the Beavers’ lone Pac-12 Conference victory against Utah, which is 4-13 in league play. The pair of other wins came in the team’s season opener Nov. 9 against Portland State and a 22-point triumph over Nicholls State. The victory over the Utes followed beating NSU, giving Oregon State a season-best two-game win streak. Baby steps people.

The win over Nicholls should’ve put the Beavers behind their longest losing streak of the season, 10 games over the span of 36 days. Except for now, the Oregon State search for victory No. 4 is on day No. 53. Last Friday was day No. 49 of 2022. The look for a drought-ender continued after an 83-68 road loss to current No. 2 Arizona last Thursday. The Beavers only trailed by a bucket at halftime. That’s one lesson to learn from this OSU team: even when it plays well for a long stretch, it loses by double digits. On Saturday, Oregon State lost by 20 to Arizona State, a game that was never truly competitive.

It’s astonishing to see Oregon State in this place of misery. A little under 11 months ago, the Beavers were playing in an Elite Eight. It’s a valid counter-argument that they had to win a lackluster Pac-12 Tournament to even qualify for the Indianapolis bubble marathon. And despite the uniqueness of the 2021 NCAA Tournament, it’s still March Madness. Craziness happens when games get played in those scenarios. Oregon State took advantage and was a six-point loss to Houston away from the Final Four. That also means the Beavers won the same number of games while in The Big Dance’s bubble as they have this season.

Oregon State’s start to that win-or-go-home journey started with a win over UCLA, which the Beavers nearly bounced from The Big Dance before the Bruins went from the First Four to the Final Four. In the Sweet 16, Oregon State took down the Loyola-Chicago team that outclassed tournament frontrunner Illinois to make it past the first weekend. To even make it to that point, the Beavers downed No. 5-seed Tennessee and a Cade Cunningham-led Oklahoma State by double digits.

This year’s OSU squad sounds like a completely different team. With the transfer portal overflowing with players from every inch of college basketball, it’s possible Beavers’ eighth-year head coach Wayne Tinkle just got the wrong combination of players to mesh at a high level. While at least an eight-player rotation is needed to be successful in a major conference, seven Beavers from last season still apply their trade in Corvallis. Division-I teams are only allowed 13 scholarship players a season.

The current nosedive isn’t the first at Oregon State under Tinkle’s tutelage. In 2016-17, the year after the Beavers only other NCAA Tournament appearance of his tenure, Oregon State finished 5-27, including a 1-17 mark in conference play. Luckily, the Beavers can’t finish any worse than that in the Pac-12, but still need two more wins over the next few weeks to reach that five-win threshold. Do you know how hard it is over the course of a college basketball season to only win five games? Most schools schedule that many mid-major games at home to pad their records. Oregon State did that but lost to schools like UC Davis, Princeton and Samford. Another harsh blessing in disguise is that Tinkle’s squads won at least 16 games every season between the two head-shaking outliers.

Every other high-level conference team has double Oregon State’s win total, with Georgia’s six-win season, another miserable failure for former Indiana head coach Tom Crean, as the second-lowest total for a team from the Power Five. The Bulldogs are still 28 spots ahead of Oregon State on KenPom, with the Beavers falling to No. 235 in America after Thursday’s loss and staying there today. Such powerhouses as Kennesaw State and Northern Colorado would be head-to-head favorites at a neutral site against the Beavers. Truly a season of misery.

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