The University of Colorado Boulder will face off against the Washington Huskies on Wednesday, March 8, for the opening game of the Pac-12 tournament in Las Vegas. After finishing the regular season with a nine-point win against Utah on March 4, the Buffs are currently in ninth position in the Pac-12 conference rankings.
The winner of Wednesday’s match will go on to compete against the UCLA Bruins, the #1 ranked Pac-12 team who is projected to be a one-seed in the upcoming NCAA men’s basketball tournament that will kick off next Tuesday, March 14.
For the Pac-12 tournament, Colorado will unfortunately have to play without their star sophomore point guard KJ Simpson, who is still sidelined after being diagnosed with mono.
Instead, Colorado will need to lean on Tristan da Silva and Julian Hammond III, both of whom played very well during the Utes game last Saturday. Da Silva and Hammond put up 15 points each and contributed massively to the depleted Buffs team. How these two players perform on Wednesday will likely be a significant determining factor in whether or not Colorado moves on to the next match against UCLA.
CU has already played Washington twice this season. During both games, the Huskies beat the Buffs by a narrow margin. During these previous matches, the Buffaloes often struggled to play efficiently from beyond the arc.
During the Dec. 4 match, Colorado shot 29% from beyond the arc, losing 63-73. For the Jan. 19 match, they shot a dreadful 15% from three-point range, losing 72-75. If Colorado hopes to beat the Huskies this time, they must hit their three-point shots throughout the game.
The Buffs will also have to do a better job of defending Huskies senior forward Keion Brooks, who has been a tough competitor for Colorado this season. He put up 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the December game and then 25 points, four rebounds and two assists in the January game.
Thus, the keys to success for the Buffaloes on Wednesday will be starting fast, hitting their 3-pointers and contesting every shot Washington puts up. Both times Colorado played Washington this season previously, the Huskies shot at least 50% from the field, which made it impossible for the Buffs to make a comeback later in the game.
Therefore, the Buffs must defend against the Huskies like their season depends on it because it truly will be one and done this time.
The Buffaloes will be up against the Huskies at 1 p.m. MST on Wednesday, March 8, on the Pac-12 network.