The regular season for many college basketball teams is often compared to a test. The whole season is a proving ground for teams to show they deserve a spot in March Madness. Conference tournaments are seen as the bonus section. Teams have one more chance to justify their resume for the Big Dance. Colorado has an opportunity to add at least one more solid win in the conference tournament.
The Buffs enter the Pac-12 tournament losing three of their last four games. They have been up and down in those four games. In losses against Cal and Utah, Colorado had a large lead at one point in both those games. The third loss was a blowout against Arizona. This has been partially because of all the away games, but also a lack of quality play.
The Buffs are the fifth seed in the tournament and will play the last seed, USC. USC has struggled mightily this season with only two wins in the Pac-12 thus far. Colorado is the clear favorite in this game. They have beaten USC twice this season. Once by 21 points and the other by 9 points. This is a large combined margin of defeat for the Trojans, which shows how much of an underdog they are. Head coach Tad Boyle will not let Colorado overlook this game in preparation for Cal.
Colorado will need to play better than they have recently if they want a chance at the Pac-12 crown. The Buffs have had a difficult time closing out teams recently. Against Cal, they had the lead late in the game and could not prevent Cal from forcing it into overtime. This is in large part due to the absence of star player Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie was the best free thrower shooter on the team and could close out games that way.
Forward Josh Scott has stepped up in the absence of Dinwiddie by leading the team in points and rebounds. Scott will be a key piece if the Buffs make a deep run in the tournament. Scott has been able to get to the line. He averages 6 free throw attempts a game. Scott has a solid post game that includes an effective baby hook and deceptive pump fake. He is able to get defenders up in the air with his pump fake, which leads to his large number of free throw attempts.
Scott was recently named to the All Pac-12 first team, according to Pac-12.com. This was a huge accomplishment for the sophomore. He improved his offensive game over the summer and was given a larger role on offense with the departure of Andre Roberson, who is now in the NBA. Scott will look to give the Buffs their 2nd Pac-12 title in 3 years this week.
If Colorado can beat USC, and they should, they will have a rematch against their most recent foe Cal. Cal was able to beat Colorado in overtime on Saturday to acquire the 4th seed in the tournament. The Buffs will most definitely want this game because of the way they lost. Colorado controlled the whole game and prevented Cal from scoring a field goal in the final 3 minutes, but were not able to close them out.
Not only will this game give them some revenge, but it would also improve their resume for the Big Dance. The Buffs are currently slated as a 10th seed in ESPN’s bracketology. If they win the Pac-12 tournament, the Buffs could move up to as high as a 6th seed. If they just reach the finals, I think they could move up to a 7th seed.