#5 Colorado vs #12 Iowa St. - 1pm - While the Buffs aren't the first game of the day, where else could I begin? It's almost theatrically dramatic that CU gets another shot at the Cyclones. It was only 6 days ago that ISU put the Buffs backs up against the NIT wall, and beat CU in Ames 95-90. Considering the hard work that the Buffs put into setting themselves up on the bubble, to have had it all seemingly taken away over the course of 40 minutes in a back-water Iowa hamlet must have been excruciating. It's that memory that the Buffs take into the game tomorrow. The team has one chance to erase that memory, and possibly play themselves into the Tournament; I hope-to-God they're ready.
|It's do-or-die time for Higgins and the Buffs. From: The BDC|
Last week, it certainly wasn't a lack of offensive output that doomed the Buffs. ISU was able to use a stellar performance from freshman Calvin Godfrey (23/11 in only 23 minutes, 10-11 shooting), who was suspended for the first meeting, and 70% second-half shooting to blow past the Buffs porous defense. In order to beat the 'Clones this time, that defense has to be shored up.
|Godfrey and the 'Clones offensive explosion smacked the Buffs in the face last week. How will Burks and the Buffs respond?|
While 70% is an outlier, as Thorburn would point out, it's not exactly unprecedented for CU to have a defensive letdown over a half. CU's defense has allowed at least one half of over 50% shooting from their conference opponents on 11 occasions, and in those games they are 4-7. If the 'Clones are able to shoot over 50% in either half tomorrow, the Buffs are putting their Tournament hopes on very shaky ground. This, more than anything else, is what I'll be paying attention to tomorrow afternoon.
|The defense needs to be much better if CU is to survive.|
For reference my first two previews are here and here.
In the end, I expect this final meeting between CU and ISU to be high scoring. In each of the two previous games this season, the winner has dropped 95 on the loser. Continuing that theme, I expect CU to win by flat outscoring the 'Clones. The defense holds just enough, and CU stays inside the bubble for one more day.
CU 95 - ISU 83.
Other first day action in KC
#8 Nebraska vs #9 Oklahoma St - 10:30 am - In the first of two "bubble" games that CU fans should pay attention to, the Huskers are clinging to Tournament hopes. In all reality, Nebraska would have to at least appear in the final to potentially claim an at-large bid. The Cowboys have some battle-tested talent (Marshall Moses, Keiton Page) that could challenge the Huskers. In the teams previous meeting this season, the Huskers got a 9 point win in Lincoln. I think it could be closer than that this time around, but Nebraska should still win.
#7 Baylor vs # 10 Oklahoma - 5 pm - The other "bubble" game involves the Baylor Bears. Baylor crashed down the ranks of Tournament contention down the stretch, losing 4 of their final 5 games. They're now on the outside looking in, and look to be out of gas. They still feature the Big XII's leading scorer in the form of LaceDarius Dunn, and could challenge Texas if they slip by OU. The Sooners are still waiting for next year. I like Baylor to win by more than 10 points.
#6 Missouri vs #11 Texas tech - 7:30 pm - This game would've been a lot more interesting had Tech not just fired Pat Knight. Sure he's still there, but there was always the chance that the Raider players could've played tough "for their coach." As of now I expect them to go through the motions, and for Mizzou to win easily. Speaking of the Tigers, I am thinking of picking them over A&M should they beat the Raiders...