It’s hard to believe how far Oregon State has come since falling at home to Colorado just a little more than a month ago. On Feb. 20, the Beavers had dropped their fourth game in five tries -- two to teams not in the NCAA Tournament -- and sat at 11-11 overall.
By knocking off Loyola Chicago, 65-58, in Saturday’s Sweet 16 round, the Beavers (20-10) continued their torrid postseason hot streak, both against the competition and the spread. In Monday's Elite Eight round, it'll be Oregon State (+8.5) against Houston.
The idea of the Beavers making the postseason at all, much less a deep playoff run, seemed far-fetched not long ago. In December, they even lost to a Portland Pilots team that finished this season 6-15 as a mid-major program.
Now, the Beavers look like one of the postseason’s darlings, sure to intrigue fans when they check the sportsbooks.
Coming into Saturday’s win, the Beavers were seven-point underdogs to the Sister Jean-inspired Ramblers. But the Cinderella story ended as Oregon State beat the spread -- and the Ramblers. With the win, the Corvallis, Ore.-based program improved to 17-13 against the spread (ATS) this season.
Postseason - Last Six Games/Wins
When you take a look at Oregon State, consider the way the team has performed in the postseason against the spread -- and not just covering but winning:
March 27 - Sweet 16 - Loyola Chicago (-7)
March 21 - 2nd Round - Oklahoma State (-6)
March 19 - 1st Round - Tennessee (-8.5)
March 13 - Pac 12 - Colorado (-8.5)
March 12 - Pac 12 - Oregon (-9)
March 11 - Pac 12 - UCLA (-5)
So why is this massive turnaround happening, and how have the upstart Beavers been able to defy the odds? One big reason for it has been the play of guard Ethan Thompson, who has recorded 22, 26, and 13 points, respectively in the Beavers’ three NCAA Tournament games.
During that span he’s 25-of-26 from the free-throw line, and he has played all but 14 minutes of the three wins (120 total minutes).
Oregon State aims to continue proving itself against higher-seeded competition and the odds that favor its opponents. The Beavers hit the 20-win mark Saturday for only the second time since the 1989-90 season (the other being the 21-15 team in 2011-2012).
The program has also won three NCAA Tournament games in a postseason for the first time since 1963, as well as getting out of the first round for the first time since 1982.
This season seems to be one to keep a close eye on when it comes to scanning the online betting lines, especially when it involves OSU.
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Brian McLaughlin is a writer for BetMGM and co-host of BMac and Herd’s FCS Podcast. He has covered the national recruiting scene in football and basketball for The Sporting News, headed up the PARADE Magazine High School All-America Basketball Team selections, handled FCS college football for HERO Sports, and has covered two NCAA men’s basketball tournaments (2009 and 2010). Follow BMac on Twitter @BrianMacWriter.