I, along with everyone else, was pleased to see that Miami drew the 15 seeded Pacific Tigers in the Round of 64 of this season of the NCAA tournament. There were two big reasons in particular why I was pleased:
1) They’re a 15 seed and we’re a 2 seed.
2) I knew basically nothing about them.
I like to consider myself a pretty big college basketball fan, and I’ve heard of / know a little bit about basically every team in the field of 68. Even for me, Pacific was foreign territory. I couldn’t tell you what conference they were in, who their best players were, their playing style, etc., so I’m here to hopefully clear the air for everyone, including myself.
How Did They Get Here?
Pacific, like many of the other low seeds in the NCAA tournament, earned their way here by winning their conference tournament.
Pacific plays in the Big West, and defeated UC Irvine for that conference’s automatic bid. The Tigers finished 2nd in the conference regular season, only behind Long Beach State University, who many people have actually heard of. Once the 49ers (that’s their nickname, by the way), were eliminated from the Big West tournament, Pacific seized control and ultimately won the whole thing. Their resume, outside of winning the conference tournament, is basically what you would expect – it’s pretty bare. They have one win against the RPI Top 50, and that came against Saint Mary’s, who found themselves playing in the "First Four" this week. Besides that, they lost to Gonzaga by 18, Saint Mary’s by 28, and several bottom feeders such as Hawaii and UCSB. Entering the tournament, however, Pacific has won their last 7 games, including a 20-point beat down of LBSU.
In terms of RPI, the Tigers rank 98th, which is actually better than I thought it would be for a team from the Big West who didn’t play many marquee out of conference games. Their strength of schedule is ranked 146th.
Do They Have Any Good Players?
Eh. For one thing, Pacific is more team oriented than individual oriented – they don’t play any players more than 30 minutes per game, and 9 players play at least 10 minutes per game, with a 10th player who averages 9.6 minutes per night. Because of that, it isn’t surprising that none of their players really stand out on the stat sheet. Lorenzo McCloud is their leading scorer at 11.4 points per game. Travis Fulton is their leading rebounder at only four per game. Colin Beatty shoots 48% from beyond the arc, and given the way Miami has defended the three point line in recent weeks, he’s definitely somebody to keep an eye on. Besides that, nobody really stands out to me.
What’s Their Tempo Like?
They play slower than Miami, averaging 63.5 possessions per game, compared to the 64.5 possessions per game averaged by the Canes.
Anything Else I Should Know?
Just some other stat tidbits:
* Pacific blocks only 2.6% of opponent’s shots, which is 6th worst in the country. In other words, they average just over 1 block per game. That’s not very good. Shane Larkin and Durand Scott would probably be very excited by that information.
* Their roster features one player listed above 6’8".
* They score 1.06 points per possession, which is 82nd in the country.
* They shoot 38% from beyond the arc as a team.
Should We Win?
Yes. Just yes.