Contact CU Independent Men’s Basketball Writer Alissa Noe at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow her on Twitter @crazysportgirl1.
With three games left in the regular season and a tournament bid on the line, the University of Colorado men’s basketball team needs to get a couple solid wins now more than ever. And though the road to that goal is clouded by a daunting No. 9 Arizona team, Arizona State and No. 22 Utah, the Buffaloes will need to find a way to dig deep and pull out at least one more win before the postseason begins.
But first, let’s take a look at the importance of these upcoming home games against Arizona and ASU, and why Colorado needs to win at least one.
This past week, the Buffs went on the road to face USC and UCLA, both talented teams in their own right. Long story short, it didn’t end well for the Buffaloes, even after a glimmer of hope.
With nine minutes left in the USC game, Colorado led by as much as 15 points before a treacherous zone defense — which Boyle’s teams have rarely been able to handle — caused the Buffs to falter and drop the game, 79-72.
But the UCLA game was more black and white. From the start, the Buffaloes couldn’t keep pace with the Bruins, who eventually won, 77-53.
Before those two painful losses, Colorado sat comfortably in the range of 68 teams that had a good shot of making the NCAA tournament. But now, that bid may be in jeopardy, which makes the next couple weeks do or die time for Boyle’s men.
Colorado is currently tied for sixth place in the Pac-12 with Washington, and both are 8-7 in conference play.
CU will get the chance to bolster that standing in two games this week on its home court. First will be No.9 Arizona on Wednesday night, a terrifying matchup without a doubt. Yes, it’s true, head coach Sean Miller and his pride of Wildcats have hit a few bumps on their road to Pac-12 supremacy this season, but they’ve seemed to turn a corner as of late.
After dropping a couple games to California and then-No. 23 Oregon, the Wildcats have prowled their way to six straight victories, including an impressive win over No. 23 USC. Four of those teams beat Colorado (Oregon State, Washington, UCLA and USC) and another, Washington State, got close.
Right now, the Wildcats only have three players averaging double digits in Ryan Anderson (15.8 points per game, 10.2 rebounds per game), Allonzo Trier (14.8 ppg) and Gabe York (14.7 ppg). But these cool Cats are not to be messed with, as they average 82 ppg as a unit and shoot 49 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from long range. The most treacherous of them all is York, who can shoot 42.3 percent from behind the arc.
In comparison, the Buffs average 77 points per game, 43 percent shooting overall and 39.4 percent from the three-point range with most of those threes coming from the Buffaloes’ top guards sophomore George King, junior Josh Fortune and sophomore Dominique Collier.
A suffocating defense and a better response to Arizona’s probable zone will be two of the main keys to pulling off an upset, and the prospect is still unlikely. But if the Buffs can muster up some way to control the ball and limit the amount of turnovers they create to, say, less than 15, they may have a fighting chance.
That being said, it’s hard to be confident in this Colorado team heading into Wednesday night at 7 p.m. as it attempts to brave the mighty Wildcats. Those unable to attend can also tune into ESPN2.
Their contest against Arizona State on Sunday, on the other hand, may be a different story.
Aside from a little speed bump with their heartbreaking home loss against Utah, the Buffs have held their own at the Coors Events Center. The ASU game shouldn’t be any different. Sitting in eleventh place out of 12 conference teams, the Sun Devils have emblazoned a current record barely above .500 with 14 wins and 13 losses.
Their only notable win this season happened against No. 23 USC, when they stole a victory by seven points.
ASU only boasts two players in double-digit scoring in a devilishly talented Tra Holder (15.1 ppg) and Gerry Blakes (10.7 ppg), but three of their guys come pretty close with 9.5 ppg or more. The Sun Devils don’t shoot lights out, scoring only 75 points a matchup and shooting just 42.1 percent overall and 33.9 percent from way downtown.
This game should be a shoe-in for the Buffaloes on senior night, with seniors forward Josh Scott and guard Xavier Talton giving their final performances in front of the C-Unit. The game is set for a 2:30 p.m. tip on Sunday and will be featured on the Pac-12 Networks.