March Madness has produced yet another upset victim.
This time, 12 seed Oregon State was the victor over 8 seed Loyola Chicago, winning 65-58 in the Sweet 16. The Ramblers were seven-point favorites over the Beavers — who, you’ll remember, only accessed the NCAA Tournament with a win in the Pac-12 Tournament — and a tournament darling. Three wins later, Oregon State became the first team to punch their ticket to the Elite Eight.
They’re also the first 12 seed to do so since Missouri in 2002.
Oregon State did that with a phenomenal defensive effort, limiting Loyola to 16 first-half points, 18-of-54 shooting (33.3 percent) and 5-of-23 3-point shooting (21.7 percent). Apart from center Cameron Krutwig (14 points, 10 rebounds, 6-of-12 shooting), no Rambler reached 50-percent shooting on the floor.
Oregon State, meanwhile, got a monstrous offensive effort from senior guard Ethan Thompson, who produced 22 points on 6-of-13 shooting, including 2 of 3 from 3-point range. Junior forward Warith Alatishe also produced the team’s only double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Here’s how Oregon State’s improbable Elite Eight run compares to other Cinderellas — ahem, Cinderella — to make the fourth round of March Madness.
Last time a 12 seed made the Elite Eight
Only one other 12 seed has ever made it to the Elite Eight: Missouri, in 2002.
The Tigers beat 5-seed Miami 93-80, 4-seed Ohio State 83-67 and 8-seed UCLA 82-73 to make the Elite Eight. Curiously, both Missouri and Oregon State earned their fourth-round berths over 8 seeds that had beaten 1 seeds (the Bruins over Cincinnati and the Ramblers over Illinois). The Tigers’ March Madness run ended in the Elite Eight against 2-seed Oklahoma, which won 81-75.
Will the Beavers end their tournament in the same round or make March Madness history as the first 12 seed to make the Final Four?
How many 12 seeds have made it to the Elite Eight?
Missouri opened its tournament run with a stunning upset of Miami, ranked 20th in the AP Top 25 at the time of their upset. The Tigers produced six double-digit scorers, including all five in the starting lineup. Moreover, they held the Hurricanes to 33.8 percent shooting in the loss.
Following that, the TIgers upended Ohio State with an excellent shooting night: 47.8 percent from the field and 38.1 percent from 3-point range. Only Brian Brown — was allowed to breach double-digit scoring for the Buckeyes, while four Tigers — Arthur Johnson, Rickey Paulding, Clarence Gilbert and Kareem Rush — scored a minimum of 14 points.
The final win in the Tigers’ Elite Eight bid came against UCLA. Despite the smallest margin of victory in their run, the Tigers had their best shooting night (51.4 overall and 43.5 from 3-point range). Four Missouri starters scored at least 14 points, including Gilbert (23) and Rush (20), who scored at least 20 points.
Missouri had four players average double-digit scoring through their run to the Elite Eight, none more prolific than Clarence Gilbert at 19.7 points per game and 50 percent 3-point shooting. Kareem Rush, the only future NBA player on the roster, was a close second at 17.8 points per game, averaging 7.7 rebounds and four assists as well. Arthur Johnson and Rickey Paulding rounded out the double-digit scorers in that run; Travon Bryant, while not an avid scorer, was arguably the most important defensive player, averaging eight rebounds per game as well as 1.3 steals and one block per game.
HISTORY OF UPSETS BY SEED:
15 vs. 2 | 14 vs. 3 | 13 vs. 4 | 12 vs. 5
How Oregon State compares
The Beavers earned a similarly dominant win in its first-round game against a good Tennessee team that was ranked as high as sixth nationally in the AP Top 25 for 2020-21. The Volunteers, which earned their 5 seed after losing in the SEC Tournament semifinals to Alabama, looked like an easy pick in the first round. But they shot 33.3 percent from the field and 19.2 percent from 3-point range in the loss, compared to Oregon State’s 48.6 percent and 47.6 percent, respectively.
Oregon State then had the unenviable task of taking on Cade Cunningham — the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft — in the second round. He scored 24 points on the night but was woefully inefficient, completing just 6 of 20 field goal attempts (30 percent). Meanwhile, Oregon State’s Thompson scored a game-high 26 points on 5-of-11 shooting (45.5 percent). Only Avery Anderson III hit double-digit points for the Cowboys.
Oregon State’s latest win came over the Ramblers. It was a dominant defensive effort against a Loyola team that had stifled its previous two opponents into scoring just 60 and 58 points, respectively. Krutwig did the best he could against Oregon State’s defense, but was the only player to even reach the 50 percent shooting threshold in the loss. The Ramblers attempted a comeback, closing the score to 47-44 with 3:31 left in the game off an Aher Uguak layup. But the Beavers outscored the Rambler 18-14 over the last 3:31 to secure the win.
It’s no secret that Oregon State has enjoyed its success in great part due to Thompson’s scoring acumen. The senior guard has scored 13, 26 and 22 points in Oregon State’s three wins, shooting 44.4 percent from the field.
Alatishe has been more of a defensive player, averaging double-digit rebounds in each of the Beavers’ three wins. He had two blocks in each of their first two wins as well.
Lucas, a sophomore guard, has also played well at 12.3 points per game thus far in the tournament. That includes 34.7 3-point percentage as well.
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