Coming off four NCAA Tournament appearances in the last five seasons, the Colorado Buffaloes find themselves in a tough position as the Pac-12 Tournament begins this week in Las Vegas. Colorado finished under .500 in conference play, and that's generally not a good omen for betting a bid to March Madness. On the other hand, the Buffaloes have a chance to advance in the conference tourney and enhance their qualifications for postseason play, thanks to an opening-round matchup against a struggling Washington State squad on Wednesday evening.
Regular season stats: 75.6 points per game scoring (123rd of 351 NCAA Division I schools), 71.6 points per game allowed (159th of 351)
Conference record: 8-10 (7th place)
Overall record: 18-13, .581 winning percentage (125th of 351)
Home record: 13-4
Road record: 4-8
Best win: The Buffs had three wins this season over ranked teams, but the best of the bunch—easily—was the 74-65 home win over the Oregon Ducks on January 28. The Ducks are the top seed in the conference tournament and a favorite for a top seed in March Madness, as well. However, on this night in Boulder, the Buffaloes went on a second-half roll that carried them to the big win. The Ducks shot just 38.6 percent for the night, allowing Colorado's defense to pressure them with eight steals and five blocks.
Worst loss: The weekend before that big win over Oregon, the Buffaloes had a nightmare road trip to the state of Washington, losing to both Washington and Washington State in overtime games, by a combined four points. Considering how low in the standings the Huskies and the Cougars finished, that weekend lapse could have cost Colorado an NCAA bid. In the Washington game, the Buffs blew a 15-point halftime lead, while against WSU, Colorado scored just six points in the OT session. The two losses were at the tail end of a tough seven-game losing streak for the Buffaloes.
Best Player: A senior transfer, Derrick White's play this season brought a lot of attention to Boulder. His year was amazing, as White averaged 17.0 points per game, 4.3 assists, 3.9 rebounds, 1.5 blocks and 1.3 steals. That's a very unique all-around game for a college player, and White was also the only Buffs player to average over 30 minutes per contest this season (32.3). He's on the court the most, and White delivers the most for Colorado as well.
Pac-12 Tournament outlook: The Buffs want some payback against the Cougars for that OT loss, and they get their chance on Wednesday night. Colorado should be able to defeat WSU and advance to a Thursday matchup against the Arizona Wildcats. The Buffaloes lost a tough 82-73 matchup on the road against Arizona in early January as a part of that seven-game slide. However, Colorado has won eight of 11 games since the end of that losing streak, and the Wildcats will need to be on upset alert against the Buffaloes on Thursday. Colorado's win over Oregon proves it can play with anyone in the Pac-12.
Tickets to Session 2, featuring the Arizona State-Stanford and California-Oregon State games on Wednesday afternoon, can be purchased here.