Who? The Beavers of Oregon State.
What? The Beaver is the state animal of Oregon. Benny's been the mascot since 1952.
Where? Corvallis, Oregon, the heart of the valley.
When? March 23rd, in Seattle, Washington.
Why? Second place in the Pac-12, as one of the most pleasant surprises of the season.
How? They were an at-large selection.
Surprise? Predicted to finish eighth in the conference, they ended up in second, tied with California and four games back of Stanford.
Record: 23-10 (13-5 Pac-12)
Good wins: Arizona State in the Pac-12 tournament.
Bad losses: At UCLA. Creighton looks a little weaker now, too.
Who's in charge around here? Scott Rueck, since 2010. He's the son of a high school coach.
The turnaround in Corvallis has been remarkable in Scott Rueck's three years, and this year is especially fascinating, powered by freshmen and sophomores. Freshman guard Sydney Wiese leads the Beavers with 14.1 points, including 43.5% from beyond the arc (which, given that 71.3% of her shots are threes, is rather impressive) and 4.0 assists. Sophomore center Ruth Hamblin is the player to watch, with 10.0 points on 58.8 shooting, 8.7 rebounds, and 4.0 blocks per game; what impresses me is that she hasn't fouled out of a game yet this season. When you're that big and that defensive and that critical, being able to stay in the game late is huge. If they have sophomore Jamie Weisner back from injury (second in scoring with 12.6 per game), they're even more deadly.