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A year after canceling the 2020 NCAA Tournament due to COVID-19, March Madness is back.
The 2021 NCAA Tournament kicks-off on Thursday with the First Four taking the court in Indiana.
But unlike other years, this tournament will be like none we have ever seen before.
Rather than be dispersed around the country and playing in stadiums filled to the rafters, this season, 68 teams will all convene around Indianapolis with limited fan attendance.
One of those 68 teams making the trip to Indy is the 2021 Pac-12 Tournament champions, the Oregon State Beavers.
A team that no one expected to be here.
Prior to the season, Oregon State was given no chance. The Beavers were projected to finish dead last in the Pac-12.
Rather than roll over and play into what the "experts" predicted, Oregon State rolled up its sleeves and went to work.
Sure, there were hiccups, like an 87-86 early-season loss to UP, but the Beavers never went off the path they wanted to navigate.
When the dust settled on the regular season, Oregon State outperformed the projections and finished fifth in the conference.
"I'm really proud of my teammates," said sophomore guard Jarod Lucas. "There are a lot of people that probably didn't believe us. Especially at the beginning of the season, didn't believe that we were gonna do what we did in the conference season."
As the No.5 seed, the Beavers were once again given no chance. They had to open up Pac-12 Tournament play against UCLA. OSU took care of business.
Then they had to face their rival, the heavily-favored Oregon Ducks. OSU took care of business.
Finally, they found themselves in the championship game against Colorado. With everyone expecting the magical run to end, the Beavers took care of business.
The run was incredible and the Beavers may have had a little bit of motivation for the run due to an inconspicuous patch sewn into the team's warm-up by their manager, Ryan Lawrence.
Inside the neck of the warm-up, Lawrence put the number 12. A reminder of where the Beavers were projected to finish and a reminder to keep proving the doubters wrong.
"We're in the locker room getting ready to play out first game against UCLA. I'm putting my shirt on and I look at my size right next to my size it says '12.' said Lucas. "I looked at Ryan and I said, 'Wow. That's really cool man. It's really gonna motivate us.' And it did. Once again, from 12th projected, and in the NCAA Tournament we're a 12 seed. It's crazy how things work out."
The Beavers went straight from the conference tournament in Vegas to the NCAA tournament in Indianapolis. They haven't seen their own homes in weeks, but they wouldn't have it any other way as hope to play Cinderalla and bust a few brackets.
We're playing with a lot of heart and fight right now. No matter what the team is. We were a five seed. We weren't supposed to win any of these games but we did it because we were playing for ourselves, being selfless.
Jarod Lucas on the Beavers
The Beavers are turning heads while playing some of their best basketball of the season. Given the state of the NCAA Bubble, the Beavers have just as good a chance to make a deep run as any other team in the field.
Projected to finish 12th. The No.12 seed in the tournament. The '12' patch on their warmups. The Beavers have their motivation and their coach has a message that keeps them grinding. "We're not finished yet"