Murray State is home for the duration of their stay in the CollegeInsider.com tournament, and the Racers are hoping for a packed house as they host the Pacific Tigers. On paper, Pacific might seem like an odd postseason opponent: they finished the year 18-15, and just 6-12 in the WCC. But with wins over BYU, at Utah State, and at Nevada, the Tigers make the cross-country trip with a higher RPI. At this point in the tournament, every team is on a win streak, making every team a potentially dangerous final opponent.
- A battle of depth and experience: As great as Murray State has been in the stretch run this year, one area they’ve still been sorely lacking is depth, and that will get tested against a much deeper Pacific team. The Tigers have eight players that play more than 18-minutes a game, versus a Racers team that generally only has eight players play…at all. Pacific’s three leading scorers are all seniors, all averaging between 11-12 points a game. They’re balanced, experienced, and that could help them overcome the hostile conditions at the Bank.
- Nothing Easy: Pacific only averages 73 points a game, but their offense is fairly more efficient than that number would lead you to believe. One reason: free-throws. The Tigers are seventh in the nation in free-throw shooting, hitting 76.9% on the year. They don’t get to the free-throw line as often as, say, a Morehead State-type team, but they can score efficiently, without needing a lot of possessions.
- Cross-Country Lag: Let’s be honest, Murray State’s isn’t easy to get to from California. You’ll likely have to fly into Nashville, and then sit on a bus for another two-hour ride to Murray. And then you have to deal with just playing a road game. It’s a long trip for a team used to playing out on the West Coast, although the late tip time could help with any time-zone lag.
Players to Watch
- Andrew Bock (Pacific): Bock, one of five Pacific seniors, is the guy you have to keep off the line. He’s an 88% shooter, and leads the team in free-throw attempts, by a lot. He’s not just a driver, though, he can pull up for three and leads the team in assists. Of the three double-digit scorers, he’s the most likely to burn you for a big night
- Cameron Payne (Murray State): Pacific’s defense hasn’t exactly been stout this year, but they’ve struggled mightily from the three-point line. For a player like Payne, who’s never seen a shot he didn’t like, he could get a lot of quality looks, and find guys like Dexter Fields and TJ Sapp for open looks.
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