Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Big XII Tournament Day #2 Preview

Whew, that was too close.  By beating ISU 77-75 earlier today, the Buffs stay in Tournament discussion, and move on to face Kansas State tomorrow.  The Buffs have been winning a lot of close ball games over the past month, going 4-1 in games decided by 3 points or less since the beginning of February.  It's enough to strain my cardiovascular system to the limit.
It hurt a little bit, but the Buffs powered past ISU in first-round action.  From: the BDC

This particular heart-stopping game featured one of the most cold-blooded, "I refuse to lose," performances I've ever seen a Buffalo produce.  With the season's success on the line, super-sophomore Alec Burks heaved the Buffs on his back, and dragged them kicking a screaming into victory.  Al finished with 29 points, 25 of which came in the second half, a career-high 15 boards, and 6 assists.  He got contact when he needed it, hit some huge jumpers, and made some ridiculous off-balance shots in the lane; it was the kind of game you expect from a premier talent in the month of March.  As fantastic as his performance against Texas was, this was even better.  It mattered more, and it was more dominant.
Burks was triumphant today.  When it mattered the most, there he was taking the game over.  From: the BDC

Additionally, freshman Andre Roberson had another fantastic game.  Grabbing a career high 15 rebounds, the lanky Texan shut down the Cyclones inside, helping the Buffs finish with a +12 rebounding margin.  That rebounding margin wasn't the only stat to be proud of.  As a team, CU held the streaky shooting 'Clones to under 40% shooting.  This, combined with Burks' performance and the rebounding edge, should've been enough to spell victory. However, CU committed a nearly back-breaking 15 turnovers.  They seemed to come constantly out of nowhere to stall the offense.
'Dre and the Buffs shored up that defense, and mostly kept Godfrey and the non-Anderson 'Clones off the board.  From: the BDC.

On the other side, ISU featured the seemingly unstoppable Jake Anderson.  It felt like every ISU possession in the second half had Anderson driving right to the rack and getting a lay-up.  33 points on 13-20 shooting. It was painful to watch, especially since CU was determined prior to the game to stop ISU from penetrating.  It was a performance that, without Burks refusing to quit, should've meant a CU loss.
Anderson almost killed CU's season.  Almost.  From: the BDC

But, it didn't.

A win is a win.  It's what I always say, and I'm sticking by it.  It doesn't matter how ugly that first half was, or how discombobulated the offense looked before Burks took over, the point is the Buffs survived, and will at least be in the conversation come Selection Sunday.  20 wins is a mile-post number, and it looks a whole hell of a lot better than 19, but it's yet to be determined if 20 will get CU into the Tournament.  Better win a 21st just to be sure...
It was nerve-wracking, but the Buffs survived and will advance in their final Big XII tournament.  From: the BDC
Click below for my 3rd KSU preview and the rest of Day 2's action...

With the ISU Cyclones finally in the rear-view mirror, Buff Nation can now turn it's collective attention to the KSU Wildcats.  CU's Tournament resume famously features 2 wins over the 'Cats.  However, this isn't the same KSU team that CU swept in the early portion of conference play.
While Cory and the Buffs already handled the 'Cats twice this season, these aren't January's KSU Wildcats.  From: the BDC

Since the beginning of February, KSU is 8-1, with their only blemish coming in Boulder on Feb 12th.  That game nervously ended in Buffalo victory because a potentially game-wining shot came just after the final buzzer.  The 'Cats are one of the hottest teams in the nation, and have completely redeemed themselves from a disappointing 2-5 start to conference play.  I repeat: this isn't the same team.

It will be a massive challenge to beat KSU tomorrow.  Not only is it always difficult to beat a team for the 3rd time in a season, or to play in front of a decidedly pro-KSU crowd in KC, but the 'Cats are positively on fire right now.  Jacob Pullen, especially, is playing good ball; the unanimous All-Big XII selection has averaged  25.5 points per game over KSU's current 6-game winning streak.  He's playing with a purpose, and is reminding everyone why he was a pre-season All-America selection.

"Angry Frank" and the revitalized Jacob Pullen await CU in the second round.  They're not going to be easy to beat for a 3rd time.

For reference my first two previews are here and here.

It's essentially only because of Pullen that I'm about to predict a CU loss. He's playing to his lofty potential right now, and if Jake-fucking-Anderson, who had been inconsistent all season, and who hadn't dropped more than 20 in a game, can do the Buffs for 33, I imagine Pullen could potentially go hog wild.

It's not a blowout, but the Buffs lose and have to hold their breath until Sunday.

KSU 75 - CU 67



Other second day action in KC

#1 Kansas vs #9 Oklahoma State - OSU survived Nebraska's defense, and, as a reward, are given a game against #2 down the street from Lawrence.  There's going to be a lot of Jayhawks in attendance tomorrow morning, and, as a result, OSU doesn't stand a chance.  KU wins big, and get ready for a grudge match against revitalized KSU.

#2 Texas vs #10 Oklahoma - I wonder what would've happened had Perry Jones not been suspended right before the game...  Anyways, OU won fair and square, and get another shot at their rivals.  Texas has been playing some shaky basketball lately, but seeing the Crimson and Cream should snap them out of it.  Texas struggles for 30 minutes, but pulls away in the end.

#3 Texas A&M vs #6 Missouri - I don't like A&M; they just don't seem as good as their record would indicate.  I'm probably distracted by that game in Boulder they should've dropped, but I'm expecting a early NCAA Tournament exit from them next week.  For this game, I really like Mizzou to shine in front of their nearly-home crowd.  I'll jump out and say the formerly slumping Tigers dispatch the Aggies in the best game of the day.


Rico said...

UNC could potentially be the only college team from the state of Colorado to make the tournament. Discuss.

RumblinBuff said...

That final was pretty ugly, but I'm glad the Bears made it. Congrats UNC!

As to your question, CSU and Air Force are all but out, and DU is done. At this very moment, without a win over KSU, I'd put our chances at 33%. So, I think there is a better than average chance that UNC is the Centennial State's only entrant unless we beat the 'Cats tomorrow.

That said, considering the paucity of entrants from Colorado over the past decade, even getting one is a step in the right direction.

Additionally, Lunardi had the Bears in Denver playing BYU in his last bracket. Not for nothing, but with BYU playing shaken-up without their baby-makin center, and in front of a home crowd, I kind of like UNC to be a potential upset.