San Diego Toreros (12-4) at Pacific Tigers (7-10)
We took the loss last night when we backed Notre Dame on the road in ACC play against Georgia Tech. I loved our side of the bet at Notre Dame -1 until later in the afternoon when the Irish scratched their leading scorer Matt Farrell. Notre Dame is already playing without its best player in Bonzie Colson, who is expected to miss several more weeks with injury, and the Irish looked lost without their two leading scorers. Notre Dame scored only twenty points in the first half and could never recover. What can you do sometimes these injuries pop up unexpectedly and can really hurt our action. Today I will focus on a matchup out of the West Coast Conference when the San Diego Toreros play against the Pacific Tigers.
The San Diego Toreros will travel to Stockton, California to play against the Pacific Tigers Thursday night. San Diego is having a strong year at 12-4 and finds itself just one game back of Gonzaga and Saint Mary’s College for the West Coast Conference lead. The Toreros are 3-1 in league play and need to win tonight to keep pace with the Zags and Gaels. Pacific finds itself with a losing record at 7-10, but has reason to be optimistic as well as they just defeated perennial powerhouse BYU at home in their last game. The Tigers have won two of their last three games since snapping a five-game losing streak to close out non-conference play. This game is an even pick ‘em. The game total over-under is set at 135 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM PST from the Spanos Center in Stockton.
San Diego has been a pleasant surprise this year in the WCC. What has been mostly a one-bid league over the last decade or so, looks like it could be a two or three bid league this year. You have Gonzaga, and Saint Mary’s up top as usual that appear to be in very good shape to be playing in March, and then you have BYU and San Diego just a half of a step behind, looking to make that jump into an at-large bid.
If San Diego has any shot at getting into the NCAA tournament without winning the WCC tournament, they have to win games like this. This is a tough road game in conference that is going to be a much tougher game than anyone would ever think. The Toreros don’t have a great overall body of work, even with their strong record, and have to stockpile as many wins as they can to try and get some of the national spotlight. Right now, the best win for San Diego is against Colorado. They have acquitted themselves well so far in league play with wins over San Francisco, Pepperdine, and Portland, with the only loss coming in a close affair on the road at Saint Mary’s. They must take care of business tonight against Pacific.
The Pacific Tigers shocked the world, ok maybe not the world but at least a couple of people in Provo, when they beat BYU at home in their last game. The Tigers aren’t playing for a lot at this point, but it is great for the program to pick up a big win like that against such an established program. Pacific played a fairly ambitious non-conference schedule that saw them get knocked around a bit early on, but I think the team is better for having that experience and it showed against a talented BYU team.
The Tigers are a bit of a plodding team at just 72 points a game, and they are really bad from deep, shooting just 30% from beyond the arc this year. Their leading scorer is Roberto Gallinat at just 12 points a game. They aren’t going to outrun you or outscore you, and they don’t have one guy that can carry them, but they play hard the entire game and give a good effort. They were able to beat BYU behind a strong shooting performance from Jahlil Tripp. The under-sized 6-5 power forward shot great from the field and scored 22 points to lead the way. It was an uncharacteristic performance from Tripp as he isn’t used to scoring double digits in many games, let alone in the twenties. They will need another big performance out of somebody tonight if they want to hang with San Diego.
It feels weird saying the San Diego is a team to beat this year in the WCC. As an avid follower of the West Coast Conference, San Diego has been a wreck for a long time. But they have a solid roster this year, and I expect them to win a lot of games in league play. They likely won’t beat Saint Mary’s or Gonzaga, but they should be able to navigate the rest of the league and get to 20 wins or more and an NIT selection. Not all teams really compete for the NCAA tournament and a trip to the NIT would be celebrated in San Diego.
It was easy for the Tigers to get up for BYU last week. They never beat BYU, and the Cougars have become a nationally recognized program. It was the stereotypical nobody believes in us scenario. The Pacific fans got hyped up they got some unlikely scoring help and pulled off the shocking upset. But today’s game is just as stereotypical of a letdown game as that one was an upset. I just don’t see Pacific as being able to get rally the troops again for another big upset so soon. They just don’t have the talent on the roster.
This line opened at San Diego -1 and quickly moved to a pick ‘em which is a bit surprising. I know many of the sharps are always going to like home underdogs in conference play, but I just don’t see it here. The game will be hotly contested, but unless they get another scoring miracle, they won’t have the firepower to hang with San Diego for the full forty minutes. Give me the San Diego Toreros at an even pick ‘em tonight from Stockton.