After winning three in a row last week the Buffs men’s basketball team was looking good. They had previously lost four out of five games and the three game swing set the Buffs up nicely.
Then they lost to Utah. It was a major upset and one the Buffs could not afford. Coming off three wins against teams much better than the Utes everyone expected a blowout. Utah had only one win in the conference before that.
Freshman forward Xavier Johnson drives to the hoop against Cal, Sunday, Jan. 27. “XJ” finished with a double double of 18 points and 12 rebounds. (Nate Bruzdzinski/CU Independent)
With a bad loss like that on their resume it will take a lot for the Buffs to get selected to the tournament come March. They do have one top 25 win, against then No. 18 Baylor, but they have lost the two other games they played against ranked opponents.
The next stretch of games for the Buffs is vitally important as they play two of the next three against ranked opponents. Up next for the Buffs is No.19 Oregon in Eugene. Oregon has been a surprise in the Pac—12 this season climbing to as high as No. 10 in the nation.
The Ducks have lost two in a row after winning nine straight games, including seven straight in conference wins. For as good as they were at the beginning of Pac-12 play the Ducks just haven’t been the same team since Dominic Artis got hurt. They have lost both games without him.
The Buffs need to capitalize on this opportunity. They are playing a ranked opponent without one of their best players. It doesn’t get better than that.
CU is on the bubble and they need every win against good opponents that they can get if they want to move off of the bubble and into the bracket.
After the Ducks, the Buffs stay in Oregon to play Oregon State. The Beavers are in last place in the Pac—12 and have played very poor basketball. I would chalk this game up to a win but we saw what happened against Utah. If the Buffs lose this game we should start thinking about our NIT chances.
If the Buffs manage to come away with wins in those games they will have a lot of confidence going into their Valentine’s Day grudge match with No. 7 Arizona. This time the game will be at home and hopefully the Buffs can put it on them early.
CU should come out firing after what happened in Tucson on Jan. 3. It should be a tough and fun game to watch. The fans in the Coors Event Center will definitely be into it, to say the very least.
If the Buffs can win these next three games they will be set up nicely for March Madness. With two of the three opponents being ranked it is a vital stretch in the season for the Buffs. Afterward they will have to play Oregon again but that is the only tough team left on the schedule.
The Buffs have had a very up and down season. That is to be expected from a young team. Now it is time for them to turn it on though, and show fans that they want to play deep into the postseason.
Contact CU Independent Sports Editor Scott Annis at Robert.Annis@colorado.edu.
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