Colorado Basketball: NCAA Tournament preview

The Colorado Basketball team were able to grab an 8th seed in this year’s NCAA Tournament. They are in the South Region with the number one overall seed, Florida Gators. This is two spots higher than what ESPN Bracketologist Joe Lunardi projected.

With the way the Buffs ended the season, it was surprising that they were able to grab an 8th seed. Many other struggling teams grabbed 8th seeds in the tournament, such as Memphis and Kentucky. Kentucky was slated as the preseason number one team, but could not live up to the hype.

Colorado had a lot of hype coming into this season as well with an experienced core returning, with the exception of Andre Roberson. Spencer Dinwiddie was supposed to lead the Buffs deep in the tournament, until he went down with an ACL injury. Dinwiddie’s injury derailed the Buffs hopes at a Pac-12 title, but they were able to play well enough to get a bid.

The Buffs made a solid run in the Pac-12 Tournament with an appearance in the semifinals, until losing to an eventual number one seed in Arizona. Luckily, Colorado had a strong enough resume so they did not need a marquee win.

Colorado now faces a newly initiated ACC member, Pittsburgh, in the Second Round of the tournament. Pitt plays very a unspectacular type of basketball. They grind their way to victories by playing tough defense and taking good shots on offense. Lamar Patterson is Pitt’s leading scorer and leads the team in assists. He averages 17 ppg and 4 apg. He touches the ball nearly every time on offense, so the Buffs will need to be able to slow him down to win.

The Buffs strength is inside with Josh Scott and Wesley Gordon. Scott and Gordon are both rangy forwards with the ability to score. Scott leads the team in points and rebounds with 14.6 ppg and 8 rpg. While Gordon is much more of a defensive presence and grabs 6.1 rebounds himself.

Pitt has its own post presence in senior, Talib Zanna. Zanna is a load to handle because of his strength and ability to push out weaker players. Josh Scott isn’t known for his girth, so Zanna will not have a tough time pushing Scott around. Scott has had some success playing against stronger post players in the Pac-12 this year. He has struggled against elite teams like Arizona and UCLA though, who have the size to slow him down.

Pitt is best known for sharing the ball. They average 15 assists per a game as a team, which ranks 21st in the country. They are a very unselfish team always looking for the best shot possible. This may hurt the Buffs because of the inconsistency of their offense. If Colorado is not able to get things started early on the offensive end, then it may be difficult to mount a comeback. They rarely turnover the ball and only allow 62.1 points per a game.

Colorado will need to take care of the ball and score a lot of opportune baskets. Pitt can easily lull their opposition into playing a grind it out game. Colorado has not been successful against elite defensive teams, such as Arizona. Askia Booker will need to play well to keep the Buffs in the game. He was able to carry them offensively during the Pac-12 tournament, but can he continue it against in the Big Dance?

Booker has not had a successful time against superior athletic teams, which Pitt is not. He may be able use his quickness to penetrate and create shots for others. The Buffs surely have a chance in this game, the pieces just need to fall in place for it to happen.