2017 Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament first round preview: No. 5 Cal vs. No. 12 Oregon State
When: Wednesday, March 8 at 2:30 p.m. PT / 3:30 p.m. MT
Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
TV: Pac-12 Network, Bay Area and Oregon
On the call: Roxy Bernstein, Don MacLean and Jill Savage
Live Stream: Pac-12.com/now
LAS VEGAS – When Wayne Tinkle’s Oregon State squad entered T-Mobile Arena for Tuesday’s shootaround, a few of the youngsters took out their phones and snapped some memories for later. After winning just one conference game this season, Tinkle said he’s happy that his green squad can get some valuable tournament experience on a big stage.
“I know it’s the conference tournament but it’s an unbelievable tournament,” Tinkle said. “It’s not the NCAAs but it’s March Madness. Some of these guys are getting that taste for the first time. It’s always very, very thrilling. We want them to share and enjoy that, but let’s try to harness and make sure we stay focused to the plan.”
The victor of Wednesday’s matchup will advance to Thursday’s quarterfinal against No. 4 seed Utah.
No. 5 Cal (19-11 overall, 10-8 Pac-12)
The Bears are one of the Pac-12 teams heading into this tournament that needs to pad its resume for the NCAA Selection Committee. As it stands now, Cal is firmly in bubble territory for The Big Dance. But the Bears have had success against the Beavs in their two contests this year, topping OSU, 69-58, on Jan. 21 in Corvallis and earning a 76-46 win in Berkeley on Feb. 24.
Players to watch
Jabari Bird, G, Senior
Height/weight: 6-6, 198
Key stats: 14.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.4 3pg
The senior is simply one of the most exciting players in the Pac-12. Whether he’s lining up for a 3-pointer for getting set to fly for another one of his high-fliying dunks, the Beavs will have to keep a close eye on Bird. But the talented wing player has only averaged 9 points per game on 28 percent shooting (7-of-25) in the two wins over OSU.
Jabari Bird 14.2 ppg. Six 20-point games. 6th in the Cal record books for three-pointers (180). 4th in the Pac-12 with 59 treys this year. pic.twitter.com/GpJ5Uy4EFG
— Cal Men's Basketball (@calmensbball) March 7, 2017
Ivan Rabb, F, Sophomore
Height/weight: 6-11, 220
Key stats: 14.3 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 1.1 bpg, 50.2 FG%
Rabb had the opportunity to join the NBA last year but has continued to develop and grow into his lanky frame under coach Cuonzo Martin in his sophomore year. Rabb is an explosive player who has racked up six double-doubles in his last nine contests.
No. 12 Oregon State (5-26 overall, 1-17 Pac-12)
With the departure of a key senior class that featured stars like Gary Payton II, Tinkle knew there would be some growing pains with his young squad. Losing his son and versatile forward, Tres, didn’t make things any easier for Tinkle but he’s keeping a level head.
“Through some of these difficult times, we’re, like, ‘Listen, guys, we’ve got the framework,’” Tinkle said. “Yes, we’re not improving in some areas and we’re saying the same things day in and day out, but we’ve got to free our minds and go play. At some point we’ve got to make plays.”
The Beavs have had a lot of trouble on offense this year, ranking last in scoring (63.2 ppg) and 11th in field goal percentage (.428).
— Oregon State Hoops (@BeaverMBB) March 8, 2017
Players to watch
Stephen Thompson, Jr., G, Sophomore
Height/weight: 6-4, 175
Key stats: 16 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 3.1 apg, 1.5 spg
The slashing sophomore has been a major force for the Beavers on both sides of the ball. Not only is he a threat to drive or connect from long range, with a couple of 30-point games to his name, but Thompson leads the squad with 37 steals.
Drew Eubanks, F, Sophomore
Height/weight: 6-10, 250
Key stats: 14.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.2 bpg, 59.3 FG%
Another major reason why the future looks bright for the OSU program, Eubanks ranks among the most talented big men in the conference. It’s easy to find him throw down monster dunks, hit jumpers and control the lane on defense. He and Rabb should provide some entertaining action on the low block.