Pac-12 media slotted the Beavers dead last in the preseason poll. Early on in the 2020-21 season, it appeared that projection may have proved accurate. But as the season progressed, Oregon State started to find answers, particularly on the defensive end, and finished the regular season at 20-12 overall and 10-10 in Pac-12 play, good for sixth-place in the conference standings.
The strong finish wasn’t enough to garner much respect, though. Oregon State wasn’t in the conversation for an at-large bid in the 2021 NCAA Tournament (understandably so), meaning its Big Dance fate rested on the Pac-12 Tournament’s outcome. Well, the Beavers took advantage of the opportunity by knocking off UCLA, Oregon and then Colorado to earn an automatic bid. Their magic didn’t end there. No. 12-seed Oregon State has since gone on to stun five-seed Tennessee, four-seed Oklahoma State and now eight-seed Loyola to move onto the Elite Eight.
Tinkle hasn’t forgotten where the Pac-12 media ranked Oregon State ahead of the season. He wore a custom t-shirt to remember the blatant disrespect. The t-shirt highlights the 12th-place projection and then advancement to Saturday’s Sweet 16, which the Beavers won in convincing fashion over Loyola Chicago.
Take a look.
LOCKER ROOM pic.twitter.com/aohFHh1aL6
— Oregon State Hoops (@BeaverMBB) March 27, 2021
Wayne Tinkle explained after the game the meaning behind the shirt in an interview with Greg Gumbel.
“I had so much confidence and belief in this group … I knew that this thing was meant to be.”
— Bleacher Report CBB (@br_CBB) March 27, 2021
When will Oregon State’s magic end? Right now, the Beavers are playing like a Final Four team.
Wayne Tinkle and his players will now await the outcome of Saturday night’s Houston-Syracuse Sweet 16 game.