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Game Preview: Colorado


by: John Chase

Colorado enters this game 9-4 on the season, 1-0 in Pac-12 play, most recently coming off a win against fellow newcomer Utah, whom the Buffaloes absolutely crushed 73-33. While I understand Utah is not even close to having the talent necessary to compete in Pac-12 yet, Colorado did not exactly come in with the highest hopes either after losing Alex Burk to the draft. That being said, Colorado has looked pretty decent in non-conference play with their biggest win a two pointer over Georgia, the same squad UW played last year in the NCAA tournament.

The Buffalo offense has been stable thus far with a low score of 54 and a high of 92. Most scores have been right around their season average of 71 points per game. Colorado receives its scoring from a variety of players with five putting up 9 or more per game and four of those in double digits. The Buffaloes also posses a very strong rebounder who has allowed them to remain one of the top in conference in terms of boards per outing. Much like the Huskies, Colorado does not do well at the free throw line.

Andre Roberson has been explosive for Colorado this season. Averaging 12 points and 12 rebounds per game, Roberson leads the team in boards and is second in points behind Carlon Brown who is scoring almost 13 per game (more on him later). Roberson is a tough, quick “guard” who has been near impossible to contain. At 6-7, most guards cannot match-up well with him, but at 195lb our forwards can do a little more muscling around. Roberson has been held to single digit rebounding only twice this season, while also having four games of 15 or more rebounds. The most recent was a season (and I believe career) high of 17 against Utah.

What makes Roberson so tough to stop is not only his own personal skills, but the rather large line-up Colorado is able to put on the floor. Against Utah, Colorado started players at 6-3, 6-5, 6-5, 6-7, 6-9. With the first four listed as guards. This team actually sizes up quite well with the Huskies who have tended to have a size advantage in the backcourt this season. Expect Darnell Gant and Desmond Simmons to draw shut down duty on Roberson. I suspect Simmons will be more successful in this endeavor as he is an avid rebounder like Roberson.

Carlon Brown is a 6-5 215lb senior guard with solid shot. Averaging just in 13 points per game, Brown is shooting 50% form the field and a decent enough 36% from range (18 of 50). Brown is a shooting guard with a fairly competent eye for the ball. He hands out 2.5 assists per game, second on the team, but also commits a hair over 2 turnovers per game. Brown does well enough at the free throw line, making nearly 76% of his attempts. He is dangerous in the lane, but also finds success breaking off screens on the perimeter for open jump shots.

Spencer Dinwiddie is the most dangerous shooter on the Buffalo team. While he is third in scoring with 11.5 points per game, he leads the team in 3-point percentage hitting nearly 52% of his attempts (19 of 37). Dinwiddie is also dangerous at the foul line with an 84% average on the year. Those types of numbers make him a dangerous match-up for UW as the Huskies can be very foul prone, especially on the road. The Dawgs will need to find a way of shutting him down without getting him to the line. Man-to-man means more foul situations, but also should eliminate 3-point attempts. Dinwiddie has the ability to create for himself and tends to do so, but he has solid catch and shoot motion that is tough to defender.

Nate Tomlinson is the play maker for Colorado. He leads the team with about 3.5 assists per game and commits under 2 turnovers per outing. Tomlinson is only averaging 6 points per game and is not a threat in that aspect. His shot is still a work in progress, hitting only 34% of his field goals (31% form range) and struggles at the foul line with a 66% average. If the Dawgs are going to foul anyone, this is the guy to foul. I think the Huskies will need to focus their defensive efforts on Tomlinson to contain the Buffalo offense as he is the one the plays run through. By forcing him into uncomfortable situations, the Dawgs are likely to force more turnovers and fast break situations.

The starting big for the Buffaloes is 6-9 225lb Austin Dufault. Dufault is fourth in scoring with 10 points per game and second in rebounding with about 5 per game. Dufault reminds me a lot of Darnell Gant in that he is a strong, but mobile forward who can get out on the perimeter and do damage and maintains the ability to post up and take some short to mid-range shots with high accuracy. Dufault has been much more efficient and consistent than Gant.

Predicted Starting Line-Ups:


G – Nate Tomlinson 6-3 190lb
G – Spencer Dinwiddie 6-5 190lb
G – Carlon Brown 6-5 215lb
F – Andre Roberson 6-7 195lb
F – Austin Dufault 6-9 225lb


G – Abdul Gaddy 6-3 185lb
G – Tony Wroten Jr. 6-5 205lb
G – Terrence Ross 6-6 195lb
F – Darnell Gant 6-8 230lb
C – Aziz N’Diaye 7-0 260lb

Keys to the Game:

  • Rebounding – After seeing an undersized Oregon take control of the glass against the Dawgs at home, I’m a little worried with this stat against Colorado. Roberson leads the Pac-12 in rebounding and is certainly one of the top in the nation. Coming off a 17 rebound game, one has to imagine that Roberson is feeling confident in his abilities and will present a tough man to control. Regardless, the Huskies need to take care of business, box out, and help on defensive assignments to ensure Colorado does not thrive off second chance shots and points. The Dawgs also need to do themselves a favor and take better care on the offensive glass (they only managed 6 against Oregon, far below the 12 to 15 they should be aiming for). N’Diaye, Simmons, Wroten, and Ross will need to step their games up and do the work necessary to control the board.
  • Defense, Defense, Defense – That has been the theme of the week and it paid off against the Oregon schools. When the Ducks and Beavers began to make runs, the Dawg defense stepped up and got stops to slow their momentum and change it in our own direction. Steals, turnovers, blocks, and even deflections will play a big part in this next game. The Dawgs have not had a good year on the road and need to show they can get it done away from Hec-Ed. This all starts with defense. It’s been looking better, now can they show up on the road?
  • Ball Control: The Buffaloes force between 12 and 14 turnovers per game, while not a ton is certainly disruptive. Wroten and others have done a better job as of late controlling the ball and limiting turnovers. This trend needs to continue as every turnover is a free opportunity for Colorado to score some easy buckets. Look for Wroten to continue his role as shooting guard, playing off the ball, with Gaddy on the court.

Final Thoughts:

This is a big time trap game for the Huskies. Colorado may not have had a strong non-con schedule, but they fared pretty well and beat the teams they should have. After their man-handling of Utah they are looking like a competent team that can do some serious damage. The Dawgs should be able to pull of a win, but it will be a close and stressful game, of that I have no doubt.

I think it comes down to how well the Husky offense can get going and if they are able to make the stops that are expected of them. If UW can get rolling early and start the game with a big run, I think their confidence and morale will soar, resulting in a high scoring night. If it comes to a shoot out, the Dawgs are much better equipped for a win.

Final Score Prediction: UW-80 CU-75