Hoops: Beavs the surprise of the Pac-12

THE NON-CONFERENCE slate hasn't exactly been a Murderer's Row and sure, things are about to get more difficult in terms of both competition and less home games -- but the Beavers right now are the surprise of the Pac-12 basketball season. Picked to finish last in the conference, OSU under first-year coach Wayne Tinkle are off to an 8-2 start and face Quinnipiac (4-5) on Sunday.

There is no TV for the OSU-Quinnipiac tilt (10 a.m. Pacific) but you can watch it online HERE.

And you might not think so at first glance, but this game carries with it plenty of intrigue for the Beavers.

Oregon State is only a 2.5-point favorite, ostensibly because they're playing their fourth game in eight days, this game is in Connecticut and OSU is 1-2 on the road this season (7-0 at home) and Quinnipiac is probably a better team than their 4-5 record suggests. They sure as heck rebound the heck out of the ball.

The biggest reveal will be to see how Oregon State follows up on their best outing of the season.

DePaul was expected to really test OSU on Thursday. Instead, Oregon State was electric from the tip, DePaul looked stunned, and the Beavs pulled away early on their way to a 90-59 laugher.

Make no mistake, there's a lot to improve on for Oregon State and there will be plenty of growing pains to come this season. But confidence is an amazing thing, and OSU is playing with tons of it right now. Confidence can also be fleeting, and the first few minutes of Sunday's game should tell us a lot about how this one might go.

Oregon State has demonstrated considerable scoring balance under Wayne Tinkle, starting with guard Gary Payton II showing he's much more than just a name (13.6 ppg, 9.4 rpg). Guard Malcolm Duvivier has been offering evidence he's ready to take that next step (8.5 ppg, 3.5 apg) and guard Langston Morris-Walker has been thriving in Tinkle's system (10.5 ppg, 5.2 rpg).

The Beaver bigs aren't putting up big rebounding numbers but forwards Olaf Schaftenaar (9.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg) and Daniel Gomis (4 ppg, 2.8 rpg) have been doing plenty in other areas - and particularly on defense.

Oregon State is No. 12 nationally in scoring defense, allowing 55.4 ppg. And they're No. 6 nationally in field-goal percentage defense, with opponents shooting 34.2 percent from the floor.

During OSU's five-game winning streak, they've held every opponent under 35 percent shooting.

And regardless of how tough the schedule to date has been, OSU's five game win streak is it's longest in 10 years.

Beaver fans will take that and run. Gleefully.

This also has to be taken into the proper context given Quinnipiac's schedule but they rank second nationally in total rebounding (46.3), rebounding margin (14.9) and offensive rebounding (17.9). It's not a fluke, they owned the boards last year too.

KenPom ranks Oregon State 112th in the land. Quinnipiac is 158th.

The expected starting lineup for Quinnipiac: G Zaid Hearst (18.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg), G Kasim Chandler (7.2 ppg, 4.2 apg), G Evan Conti (9.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg), F Ousmane Drame (15.2 ppg, 10.8 rpg), F Justin Harris (8.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg).

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