When Pacific coach Bob Thomason announced in May that this season would be his last as the man in charge of the Tigers, it would have been tough to predict a campaign like this.
They started with a below-.500 non-league campaign, but they also beat Saint Mary's and Xavier. They then slumped in conference play before winning the final four games of the regular season -- and then the conference tournament in exciting fashion. The Tigers escaped the first two games by a combined five points and then knocked off UC-Irvine on Saturday 64-55. Lorenzo McCloud had 16 points, while Tony Gill contributed 19 points despite committing four fouls.
Can Pacific keep its hot streak going in the NCAA tournament? The Tigers have been great on neutral sites this season, going 5-1 with the loss coming to California. They are accurate from 3-point range and take care of the ball while also controlling tempo. Moreover, they're experienced at the top of the roster.
For Thomason's career, anything else is just icing on the cake.
Player to know: Lorenzo McCloud. Pacific has a balanced operation, but McCloud is the team's lone double-figure scorer. The 6-foot senior had 16 points and seven rebounds in the championship game and has the ability to score off the bounce or from behind the arc. He also does a good job of creating for others and can draw fouls.
- Record: 22-12 overall, 13-5 in Big West
- Most recent tournament appearance: 2006
- Jerry Palm predicts: 15
- KenPom ranking: 121
- Sagarin ranking: 135
- RPI: 105
- Best wins: Saint Mary's, Xavier
- Worst losses: Hawaii, UC-Santa Barbara
- Notable stat: Pacific strokes it from 3-point range. The Tigers shoot better than 39 percent from behind the arc, which ranks No. 13 in the country. Interestingly, no one on the team attempted more than 83 3-pointers -- yet there are four players who made at least 40 percent of them. With eight guys who knocked down at least 20 3-pointers, this team is dangerous from the perimeter.
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