It’s finally tourney time, as we are in the midst of the month that truly brings madness to sports.
The Beavers of Oregon State will look to take on the Rams of Virginia Commonwealth University in the First Round as tip-off is Friday at 12:30 PM Central in Oklahoma City. Both teams will be looking to hopefully have a chance to play Oklahoma in the second round, barring an extremely major upset.
The 7 vs 10 match-up has not been as competitive as out lately in the NCAA Tournament as the 7 has won nine of the last 12 meetings in the last three years, yet VCU is still a 4.5 point favorite in this game.
Last time the Beavers made the tourney was 26 years ago, when their best player’s father, Gary Payton, was suiting up for them. They are carried behind athletic phenom Gary Payton II who leads the team in scoring (15.9 PPG), rebounding (7.9 RPG), and assists (5.1 APG). Being only 6 foot 3, it’s crazy the hops this man has with his game-changing blocks and dunks.
The Beavers, however, will be playing without their second best player in coach’s son 6′ 8″ freshman Tres Trinkle, who is out with a right foot injury from early March. Trinkle had averaged 13.4 PPG and 5.4 RPG on the season.
Oregon State finished 9-9 in the PAC 12 and 19-12 on the season, challenging themselves with a “neutral-site” game in Kansas City against the best team in the country in Kansas, which they lost 82-67. This was countered with wins in conference against Oregon and California.
On the other side, VCU is led by guard Melvin Johnson who averages 17.4 PPG. The biggest difference for the Rams is the loss of their prominent coach, Shaka Smart, to Texas. VCU ranks sixth in the nation in steals and hosts a top-60 defense in contrast to the Beaver’s 130th ranked defense.
The guards of VCU scores in many different ways, as they are tough to keep up with, especially with the work of big forward Mo Alie-Cox, who draws in opposing defenses to dish the ball out to open shooters.
March Madness is typically distinguished by the rise and emergence of the game’s stars, and this game will be no different. Expect Gary Payton II to have a huge game and put Corvallis, Oregon on the map, even without Tinkle. This will be close-knit and a hard fought game, but fully expect Oregon State to win this one as the “underdog” and move on to try and knock off Oklahoma and their own big name player in Buddy Hield.
Prediction: Oregon State 79, VCU 74