INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Oregon State coach Wayne Tinkle has never been to this point in the NCAA Tournament before, not as a player for Montana in the 1980s, as an assistant and head coach of the Grizzlies in the 2000s.
He hasn't had to look far for some Sweet 16 advice, though: His daughter, Joslyn, went to three of them with Stanford.
The two of them talk regularly, and dad was recently on Joslyn’s podcast called “Talkin’ Beavers” to discuss the remarkable run by his No. 12 seed team. The Beavers are set to face eighth-seeded Loyola Chicago on Saturday.
“She just said, ‘Your guys looked so relaxed and confident. Keep them that way,'” Wayne Tinkle said. “Obviously that’s a big reason they're playing the way they are. Their minds are freed up and they're just out there hooping.”
Tinkle's family knows a thing or two about hooping.
Dad spent a dozen years playing professionally all around the world. His son, Tres, played for him at Oregon State and is now in the G League. Joslyn was a McDonald's All-American who led Stanford to 137 wins over four seasons, then played for the Seattle Storm in the WNBA and several clubs abroad. Their sister, Elle, played her college ball at Gonzaga.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a change in wardrobe for college basketball coaches. All those suits and ties? Gone, replaced by polo shirts. Yet count Arkansas coach Eric Musselman ahead of the game in that regard.
The former NBA coach wore a suit his first year at Nevada, but he's gone with the polo look the past five years.
“If I never have to put a tie on the rest of my life, I will be extremely happy,” Musselman said. “Where I grew up in San Diego, suits, hard shoes and ties are not cool. I’m all for the polo game. If we advance, if we were ever fortunate enough to continue to play, you will not see me in a suit.”
Musselman’s first polo foray in the NCAA Tournament came with a bit of trepidation. He wore a polo shirt all through the 2016-17 season with Nevada but wasn’t sure if it was allowed when the Wolf Pack reached the NCAA Tournament.
“The first time I wore a polo in an NCAA game, I actually asked the NCAA representative prior to the game if it was OK if I did that in this tournament,” he said “I got the thumbs up, so I never looked back.”
Four of the 16 remaining teams in this most unpredictable of NCAA tournaments are double-digit seeds, but Syracuse may be the best example of a program that throws that number next to its name out the window this time of year.
The No. 11 seed Orange, who already knocked off San Diego State and West Virginia, were also 11-seeds when they reached the Sweet 16 in 2018. Two years before that, coach Jim Boeheim's club reached the Final Four as a 10 seed.
“We'd like to be good in the regular season and the tournament,” he said, “but if you're not as good as you'd like to be in the regular season, then let's play well in the tournament. That's what these guys have done.”
It goes beyond the tournament. The Orange probably wouldn’t have made the field if not for consecutive wins over North Carolina, Clemson and North Carolina State to close out the regular season.
“We were in a big hole,” Boeheim acknowledged. “We were not going to make the tournament if we didn’t win all those games. These guys deserve all the credit in the world. I mean, they’re a tough bunch. They’ve really earned this."
First time’s the charm
With so many bluebloods out of the running — Duke and Kentucky failed to make the field, Kansas and North Carolina have been sent home — there's a good chance a first-time champion will be crowned from the field of 16 in the next two weeks.
Nine of the remaining schools, who have a combined 13 trips to the Final Four, have never won a title: Alabama, Baylor, Creighton, Florida State, Gonzaga, Houston, Oral Roberts, Oregon State and Southern California.
Then there are the three that have never made the final weekend. Creighton has the fifth-most NCAA appearances (22) without a Final Four to its credit, while Alabama (21) is right behind. Oral Roberts also has never made a Final Four.
“It’s a big milestone in our program, the first Sweet 16 since 2004,” said the Crimson Tide's Jaden Shackelford. “We like to soak up our accomplishments.”
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