As the University of Colorado men’s basketball team heads into the final six games of its regular season schedule, the Buffaloes (12-12, 5-7) will try to hang with two Oregon teams in the top half of the Pac-12 standings.
After ending a three-game losing streak with a win over Stanford on Sunday, Colorado now sits at ninth in the Pac-12. With three games under his belt since after a month off due to a back injury, junior forward Josh Scott continues to regain his form. There have been promising signs, such as his rising rebound totals in the past three games, but it still seems that after a month on the bench, Scott is playing his way back to full strength.
While the end of the season will be a chance for Scott to return to full health, the Buffs are playing mostly for pride and a chance to move up in the Pac-12 standings. Sporting a sub-.500 conference record and a few ugly losses, it is clear that the only way into the NCAA tournament this season for Colorado will be if it can win the Pac-12 tournament — a feat they accomplished last in 2012.
Wednesday night’s game against Oregon will be a good chance for head coach Tad Boyle’s Buffaloes to hold their own against a top team in the conference. After a 14-point loss to No.7 Arizona and two 20+ point losses to No.9 Utah, the top two teams in the Pac-12, CU hopes to keep it closer with Oregon, who currently sit in what feels like a distant third place in the conference from the Buffs.
To do so though will mean keeping senior guard Joseph Young, Oregon’s leading scorer, in check. Young has been averaging 20.1 points in conference play for the Ducks, and is shooting 42.2 percent on 3-pointers. Colorado’s problems for most of the season have stemmed from a failure to put enough points on the board, but even a good offensive night by the Buffs’ standards may not be enough if they can’t contain Young.
The Buffaloes’ best chance for a win on this Pacific Northwest road trip will come at Oregon State on Saturday. The Beavers may sit at sixth in the Pac-12 currently, but they have lost four of their last six games and are coming off a 68-55 loss last Saturday to USC, who is ranked dead last in the conference and had lost its previous nine games. If the Buffs can hang with Oregon on Wednesday and carry some momentum into Saturday’s game, they could steal a game in Corvallis.
If Colorado wants to finish the season with a .500 record, it’ll have to win at least one of the next four road games. Factoring in the unlikeliness of victory at home on Feb. 26 against Arizona, it is more likely that Colorado will need two or three road wins to close out the regular season, having won as many as they’ve lost.
Colorado plays at Oregon on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 9 p.m. MST. The game will be televised on ESPNU. CU then travels to Oregon State on Saturday for another 9 p.m. tipoff on the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact CU Independent Assistant Sports Editor Sam Routhier at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @samrouthier