The preseason Pac-12 polls had the Arizona Wildcats and its next four opponents clustered in the middle of the league from fifth to 10th. UA will face four road games, going against Oregon State, Oregon, Washington, and Washington State. First up is the Beavers.
Arizona has had the most success in early conference play, but Oregon State cannot be overlooked—especially after some strong play in Los Angeles last weekend. Besides, Corvallis is always a tough place to play, as Arizona found out once again last season.
The Beavers didn’t play much of a nonconference schedule. They left Corvallis for just two games. Both were played on neutral courts. They did not play a true road game until they visited UCLA and USC last weekend. With two opponents in the top 10, it’s not a surprise that they dropped both.
That’s not a problem this weekend. The Beavers are back home. They also weren’t pushovers on the road last week. Oregon State had a two-point loss at No. 9 USC before losing to No. 2 UCLA by 11 points in the first full weekend of conference play.
For most of the season, the Beavers have leaned heavily on sophomore post Raegan Beers. Against the Women of Troy, it was Talia von Oelhoffen who stepped up to lead the team in a close loss. Beers was back to her dominant self against UCLA, scoring 21 points after having just nine in the Galen Center.
Von Oelhoffen has been a mainstay of OSU since enrolling early during the 2020-21 season. Unlike several of the Beavers other top recruits during that period, she has stuck around. Then Beers arrived on the scene last year, garnering Pac-12 Sixth Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year awards. She is even more dominant this season.
Beers is third in the Pac-12 with 18.9 points per game. She averages a double-double with 11.1 rebounds per contest. She’s also finding her teammates out of the post with 1.9 assists per game.
Along with 6-foot-5 Kelsey Rees, the 6-foot-4 Beers gives the Beavers the kind of frontcourt that head coach Scott Rueck has often employed. Two players with the length to clog up the paint. That could be a problem for Arizona.
The Wildcats will be short on true post players for the rest of the season. Although Isis Beh has been cleared to play after spending time in concussion protocol, that gives the team just three healthy posts all of whom have dealt with foul issues this season. It likely means more time at the four for both Helena Pueyo and Skylar Jones. While both are big guards, they give up considerable height to the starting pair of Beers and Rees.
The other problem for Arizona that will follow it all season is its travel partner. With Arizona State at such a low point, it allows teams to spend more time focused on the Wildcats if they choose to. Add to that the fact that the Beavers have always played tough at home, and UA will have a lot to overcome if it hopes to get the weekend off on a winning foot.
RV Arizona (10-5, 2-1 Pac-12) @ RV Oregon State (12-2, 1-2 Pac-12)
When: Friday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. MST
Where: Gill Coliseum in Corvallis, Ore.
TV: Pac-12 Network and Pac-12 Arizona
Radio: Varsity Network
Stats: OSU Live Stats
Standings: Arizona is currently tied for fourth in the Pac-12. Along with USC and California, it has a 2-1 record. OSU is tied for seventh with Washington and Utah. All three are 1-2.
Rankings: Both Arizona and Oregon State are receiving votes in both major polls. The Beavers are No. 22 in the NET. Arizona is No. 42.
Win probabilities and odds: Her Hoop Stats projects that each team would narrowly win on its home floor. Oregon State has a 63.7 percent win probability in Corvallis. It is projected to win by 4.1 points and the point total is at 133.5 points.
Massey gives Oregon State a 54 percent win probability at home. The most likely score is 68-66.
FanDuel has Oregon State as the 2.5-point favorite with an over/under of 134.5.