The NIT has proven to be a nice consolation for CU. Unlike fellow bubble denizens Virginia Tech and Boston College, who lost over the weekend, CU survived the first week, and is one game away from NYC. The program has gotten to play extra games in front of appreciative, larger than expected crowds, and we've all been allowed to feel good about being Buff fans. That I would trade it all away for even a one-and-done Tournament appearance is besides the point. This team is getting the chance to prove to themselves and to the nation that they belong, and they're taking advantage of it.
Today in the bag, I'll be talking more about Friday night's win over Cal, the goings on with the Dance, and touch quickly on a setback for my beloved White Sox.
Click below for the weekly grab bag
Win over Cal - It took another strong second half, and the absence of Cal's two best players, but CU put away future conference foe Cal with a convincing 17-point win Friday night in the second round of the NIT. Once again CU found themselves out-rebounding, out-shooting, and out-defending their opponent en route to victory. Were it not for 9 missed freethrows and a slew of missed dunks, the Buffs would've laughed their way to the win rather than coast to it. CU so dominated the second half, that Coach Boyle was able to empty his bench for the final 4 minutes, giving seldom-used players like Ben Mills, Trey Tckloff, Trent Beckley, and Javon Coney extended minutes.
|The Buffs looked supremely confident in their win over the Golden Bears. From: the BDC|
Records broken and breaking - In a note that will surprise no one at this point, CU was lead by the dynamic duo of Alec Burks and Cory Higgins. The stellar back-court combo combined for 47 points, and are proving on a semi-national stage that they are every bit the elite players we've known them to be.
|Al did his thing again, dropping over 20 points on a team for the 7th time in 8 games. If this were NBA Jam, he'd be on permanent fire. From the BDC|
|Cory is one more spectacular performance away from the all-time scoring record. From: the BDC|
Buff Nation stepped up - I was overjoyed to walk into the CEC and see a mostly full stadium Friday evening. Despite the dire predictions of nearly everyone, both the students starting on Spring Break and Buff Nation as a whole showed up to see the Pac-12 preview game with Cal. The announced crowd was only 7,614, but it looked to me like it was closer to 9k. Regardless of the actual number, the crowd that showed up was loud and into the game from the start, creating an atmosphere where it'd be tough for CU to lose.
|Buff Nation had more fans show up to the second round of the NIT than Virginia Tech or Boston College combined. From: the BDC|
|Cory, Al, and the gang need you one more time this year. Get your butt to Boulder! From: the BDC|
Kent State on deck - That final game standing between CU and a trip to NYC is going to be against the Kent St Golden Flashes. The MAC regular season champions won their second straight NIT road game on Sunday morning, defeating the Fairfield Stags by 4 points on the Stags home court. KSU will be bringing their road-warrior style to the CEC Tuesday night.
|Kent St grabbed yet another win on the road to earn a game with the Buffs. From: the Fairfield Citizen|
Quick thoughts on the first weekend of the Tournament - There were a lot of upsets this weekend, and they were highlighted by the four 10 or higher seeds to make it to the sweet-16. Overall, there are 6 "upset" teams making it to the second weekend, and it was mostly at the expense of the Big East. While most everyone expected 3-seeded UCONN to make it to the sweet-16, the only other Big East team to survive was Marquette, and they did it at the expense of fellow Big East member Syracuse. With 11 teams in the Tournament, the league was doomed to underperform as some teams have to lose, but the speed and impact of the losses are what were surprising to me.
|Notre Dame got swarmed by Florida St in what was essentially a home game in Chicago. From: the Trib|
Jake Peavy sees setback - In news that only I care about, Sox high-priced starter Jake Peavy saw some tendinitis flare up over the weekend. This will set back his bid to comeback from a muscle displacement in his back, and will probably cause him to miss a few weeks to start the season. This is not wholly unsurprising, and the Sox were quick to caution everybody when Peavy began taking the mound a month ago. Still, this has to be frustrating for Jake, who had been buzzing along through his recovery up to this point.
|Jake had been way ahead of schedule, but now the Sox need to sit him down to ensure there's no long-term setbacks. From: the Trib|