As the regular season ends for No. 14 Oregon State (22-8, 10-8 Pac-12), the real season has just begun.
The Beavers will play in the Pac-12 Tournament this weekend where, despite being a powerhouse in the conference for years, they have lost their opening game of the tournament the last two seasons: a 57-51 loss to sixth seed Arizona State in 2018 as the 3-seed, and a 68-67 loss to 11-seed Washington once again as the third seed in 2019.
This season, Scott Rueck's team will enter as a 6-seed missing a first-round bye in the conference tournament for the first time since 2013, setting up a rematch with Washington State at 8:30 p.m. PT, who they defeated this past weekend on Senior Day.
After the 73-58 victory over the Cougars, Mikayla Pivec said the Beavers want to earn a high enough seed in the NCAA Tournament to host the first weekend, but need to take care of business in Las Vegas first.
I would love to play two more games in Gill. We know nothing is guaranteed and we have to take care of business in the Pac-12 tournament if we want the opportunity to do that.
However, the bracket shapes up nicely for the Beavers.
The only Pac-12 foe to blow out Oregon State has been No. 3 Oregon, who earned the first seed placing them on the opposite side of the bracket. If the Beavers advance past Washington State, it'll set up a rematch against No. 7 Stanford, who swept Oregon State in two closely contested, three-point games: 61-58 in Corvallis and 63-60 in Palo Alto. The Beavers can compete with the Cardinal even without starting forward Kennedy Brown, who will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, as the second game was played without her.
Then, if the Beavers can finally get over the hump and defeat Stanford, No. 8 UCLA awaits who won their only matchup of the season in Los Angeles, 83-74. Regardless of the result in the semifinals against the Bruins, a win against Stanford should lock up the chance to host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Losing Brown for the year almost certainly dooms their National Championship aspirations, evidenced by them losing their next four games following the injury. However, a deep run in the tournament isn't out of the question. Going into the Pac-12 tournament, the selection committee chose the Beavers as the No. 15 overall seed granting them a 4-seed in the Greenville Regional. If that remains, then the Beavers host the round of 64 and 32 before traveling to Greenville, South Carolina for the Sweet-16 and potentially the Elite Eight.
If the Beavers can put up a good performance this weekend, then they can ride home-court advantage to the Sweet-16 and who knows what can happen in a single-elimination, 16-team tournament. But if they lose for the third-consecutive season in their first game, or get blown out by Stanford in the quarterfinals, the Beavers could be traveling as a 5-seed in the NCAA Tournament which jeopardizes them playing for another weekend.
In many ways, a Sweet-16 berth is on the line this weekend, and the Beavers need to take care of business to make it a fifth-straight season playing in the NCAA Tournament's second weekend.
What's at stake for Oregon State women's basketball in the Pac-12 Tournament originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest