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WSU VS. OREGON STATE: A Second Look At The Beavers

Washington State will look to avoid the Oregon sweep tonight when they travel to Corvallis to take on Oregon State.  Oregon State is coming off its most impressive win of the year over Washington, while WSU finds themselves reeling after a shocking 26-point blowout loss to Oregon.

Oregon State has been, by far, the statistically worst team in the conference.  They are currently rated #146 on KenPom, with the next closest team being Arizona State at #118.  They posted the Pac-10's worst set of non-conference losses to Seattle, Texas Southern, and Utah Valley.  Coming into the Pac-10 round robin, it seemed a longshot for them to win more than a couple games.

However, like they've shown in the last few years, they can turn it up in conference play and make noise in the standings.  Oregon State sits just one game behind WSU, with four wins.  They've managed to knock off some of the top teams in the conference in UW, Arizona, and USC.  There aren't many teams who have lost to the 284th worst team in the country (Seattle, according to kenpom) and beaten the tenth best (UW).  Is it possible that Gill Coliseum provides that much of an advantage?

All four of OSU's conference wins have come at home.  Eight of their top ten offensive perfomances and ten of their top eleven defensive performances have come in Corvallis.  Thursday's defensive effort was truly remarkable, holding one of the best offenses in the country to .75 points per possession and limited them to just 16.7% of available offensive rebounds.  The Beavers must have super comfy beds in Corvallis or something, they seem to transform when they are wearing the home unis.  Gill Coliseum is a place where WSU has thrown out some clunkers over the years, even in victory. 

Oregon State is among the best in the country in forcing turnovers, but WSU didn't really let that stop them from putting up a good offensive performance against the Beavers in Pullman.  The Cougs posted an abysmal 25.0 turnover rate but still were able to put up 1.1 points per possession thanks to a high free throw rate and a high eFG%.  Defending the two point shot is OSU's biggest weakness, so Klay Thompson and company should be able to step inside the three point line to find good looks tonight. 

As many teams have against WSU this season, Oregon State did not shoot well in Pullman, posting a 39.0 eFG%.  Outside of Jared Cunningham, the Beavers don't really have a consistent scoring threat.  Cunningham's effectiveness is largely built at the free throw line.  He is 67th in the country in free throw rate and hits 80% of his shots from the charity stripe.

On paper, this game looks like an easy win for the Cougs.  Kenpom predicts a 75-68 win with 75% confidence, but OSU's ability at home is something of great concern.  "On paper" they should have lost to Arizona, USC, and UW.  WSU will get the Beavers' best effort in front of their home fans.  The crowd should be energized following Oregon State's big win on Thursday. 

It won't be easy for WSU, and it will be interesting to see how they bounce back from their most embarrassing performance of the season.