The WCC, ranked ninth in conference RPI, has become a perennial multi-bid and multi-tournament league. However, more often than not, the league's deepest runs in the postseason have been coming in tournaments other than the NCAA.
That is once again the case this year, except it's not Santa Clara (2011 CIT and 2013 CBI champs) or BYU (2013 NIT semis). It's the Tigers of Pacific and Toreros of San Diego, two teams that finished well below .500 in conference play, vying for a spot in the CIT semifinals.
San Diego and Pacific split their season series in the WCC, with each team winning in the other's building. Each team's victory was achieved in a fashion typical of that team.
San Diego won with an offensive barrage from junior guards Johnny Dee (16.8 ppg) and Christopher Anderson (6.2 apg). In that February 15th victory in Stockton, CA, Dee had 19 points while Anderson had 10 points and nine assists.
Pacific won with a balanced offensive attack. The six highest scoring Tigers average between seven and eleven-and-a-half points per game. Five of those six averaged over seven points in the win in San Diego. Sama Taku, second on the team with 11.2 points per game, had just two in the win, but he's a streaky scorer.
What to Expect: San Diego
I already mentioned the junior guard duo of Christopher Anderson and Johnny Dee, and for good reason. If this team was a 50's rock band it would probably go by the name of Johnny Dee and his Toreros, with Dee as the singer and Christopher Anderson playing lead guitar. They're far and away the most visible, and dominant, players on this team.
They've started together since their freshman campaign and have a chemistry that rivals any backcourt in the nation.
Up front are Jito Kok and Dennis Kramer. Kok is pretty much a defensive specialist. A long 6'9" frame makes him an excellent rim protector (1.8 blocks per game). While Kok's scoring is pretty much a bonus for the Toreors, Kramer's isn't. The backcourt dominates this team, but Kramer provides enough balance in the post to keep teams from keying entirely on the perimeter.
Sophomore wing Duda Sanadze has emerged as one of the Toreros' best weapons this season and into a true x-factor.
What to Expect: Pacific
Balance, across the board, and experience. Eleven Tigers play significant minutes of nine or more per game. That balanced approach to line-ups has resulted in a balance on the box score. T.J. Wallace, Trevin Harris, Ross Rivera, Andrew Bock, Sama Taku and Tony Gill all average over between seven points per game.
Now, experience. The Tigers are the 18th oldest team in the country according to Ken Pomeroy's experience rankings. Ron Verlin's players have an average of 2.3 years experience in college. Of those six players who score over seven points per game, only T.J. Wallace is not a senior.
Those two aspects combine to make the Tigers a hard team to stop, because you have to stop the team, not just a couple of players.
Trevin Harris has not played since the Tigers' regular season finale against Portland. He was listed as questionable with an arm injury for the Tigers' last game, against Texas A&M Corpus Christi, with an arm injury.
What to Expect: Overall
Scoring, that's about all that's going that's certain.
Neither game between these teams in the regular season was a close contest. Pacific won 84-67 and San Diego won 70-55. Each team barely made it out of the CIT opening round but cruised through their second game.
San Diego Toreros at Pacific Tigers
Spanos Center, Stockton, California
Wednesday, March 26th at 7:00 p.m. Pacific
Watch: Free live stream from College Insider