Pacific Tigers (15-14, 6-12)
Position in West Coast Convo Power Rankings: 8th
A strong showing in non-conference play hinted that Pacific could be a bigger threat then many fans and pundits expected.
The WCC newcomers were fresh off a Big West tournament championship and an appearance in the 2013 NCAA tournament from the following season. The Tigers appeared to use a majority of that momentum to jump out to an 8-1 start to the season, with their only loss at the hands of then No. 14 Oregon.
However, the Tigers season quickly went sour when they lost seven of their next nine games, including six WCC tilts.
An upset victory at BYU remains Pacific’s best win to date, a game in which the Tigers exploded from beyond the 3-point line to knock off the Cougars.
Pacific comes in the the WCC tournament with a recent win over Portland.
The Tigers have shown the ability to surprise and beat teams they are not supposed to all year. Can they string a few of those together and make a run in Las Vegas?
Players to Watch
The main player to watch for Pacific is Tony Gill.
The Tigers roster features seven seniors, but Gill was the one that Verlin decided to take with him on WCC media day in October. Gill is one of the primary observed leaders on the team.
Gill is a consistent force in the paint, the place where he does most of his damage. His wide frame allows him to matchup with any post in the conference. Gill also looks more comfortable with his outside shot this season, as Gill has shot 34 more 3-point jumpers this year compared to last.
Another senior to keep an eye on is Ross Rivera. The senior is the Tigers most versatile big man, as he is connecting on 40.7 percent of the 3-point shots he attempts this season. Rivera can also bang down low, making him a tough player to guard.
T.J Wallace serves as this teams sparkplug off the bench, and when he is hitting his shots the Tigers are significantly better as a result.
What to Expect from Pacific
The Tigers received a tough draw, and an early exit would not be surprising from the Tigers. Pacific’s senior leadership should help to a certain extent, but since this is its first year in the WCC it might not help as much as expected.
If the Tigers get past Santa Clara on Thursday, they will face off with Gonzaga on Saturday. The Tigers were blown out by the Zags in each of their regular season meetings. Based on this, Pacific’s expectations in its inaugural WCC tournament should not be too high.