The Colorado Buffaloes had a nightmare of a time during their conference opener. The Buffs squandered a 17 point lead over then #3 Arizona before a buzzer beating 3-pointer appeared to have won them the game in Tucson. Despite clear evidence showing the basket should be counted, the refs again gave Arizona the biggest home-cooking I’ve seen in some time, resulting in the eventual loss in overtime. Bad reffing aside, the Buffs should have stole the show and taken home a win if they had hit critical free throws throughout regulation.
Since that fateful night, the Buffaloes have been a miserable 1-3 in conference play with their lone win coming against a struggling USC team that has recently fired their head coach, only 4 games into the conference year. Colorado does have one thing that the Huskies have not done since the 2010-2011 season, rack up at least one quality win against a ranked opponent in the non-conference. A 2-point win over then #16 Baylor is one of a handful of wins over ranked opponents that the Pac-12 have manged this year.
Much like the Dawgs, the Buffaloes have 4 players currently averaging double-digit points per night and a big man that can just about be counted on for a double-double night in and night out. 6-7 210lb Andre Roberson is averaging a league best 11.8 rebounds per night with a high of 20 rebounds. The kid knows how to attack the rim with ferocity and is not shy to bang with bigger guys. Roberson reminds me of a slightly smaller Jon Brockman. Desmond Simmons and Roberson should have a fantastic battle in the paint that will be a sight to behold. Both players are scrappy, tenacious, and happen to be separated in size by a mere 10lb (in Simmons’ favor).
6-1 170lb Askia Booker is barely edging out Spencer Dinwiddie, 6-6 200lb, for the Buffaloes leading scorer title. Averaging 14.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game, Booker is a solid guard with decent outside shooting talent. Dinwiddie appears to be a statistically more rounded player with better rebounding, assists, steals, free throw percentage, field goal percentage, and 3-point percentage averages. Dinwiddie will prove himself a capable player and C.J. Wilcox will likely be called upon to take on the challenge, a task he should be more than capable of handling.
Josh Scott tends to be the big man in the paint for the Buffaloes. At 6-10 Scott can compete in height with Aziz N’Diaye, but when it comes to strength and size the 260lb+ N’Diaye far outweighs 210lb Scott. Due to this massive size differential, 6-11 250lb Shane Harris-Tunks may see his play time upped from 9 minutes to somewhere closer to 15 or 20. The Dawgs would be foolish not to seize on this clear weakness in the post. The good thing about Scott is that despite his slight frame, he is still managing over 13 points a night along with 6 rebounds.
After a 3-0 start in conference, all on the road, the Huskies have to be feeling much better about their post season prospects. While 3-0 is no title guarantee, it is often said that the key to winning a conference title is to win all of the home games and split the road games. With 9 games on each side of things, the Dawgs need only 2 more road wins to have a very solid shot at taking home a fifth straight conference banner. Before the team thinks that far ahead, they must first keep things going by sealing up their home court with a pair of wins this week over the Buffaloes and ever embarrassing Utah. The Dawgs will be evenly matched in the “mid-court” where Dinwiddie and Roberson pose a daunting duo against our own skilled players in Simmons and Pac-12 Player of the Week, C.J. Wilcox. The Huskies will have a nice size advantage in the paint, while guard play should be slightly favored for the Dawgs.
All in all this should prove to be a good week to be a Dawg fan and a pair of wins could prove a great confidence booster before traveling down to Oregon where the Ducks look as malicious as even on their home court. Could this team be the first to knock off the Ducks in Matthew Knight arena? One can certainly hope so.