Covering University of Colorado sports, mostly basketball, since 2010

Monday, December 30, 2013

Monday Grab Bag: Bring on the Pac-12!

Over the next two weeks, you may notice that the basketball band has a decidedly... older flare to it.  That's because, for the third year in a row, the band is graciously allowing a few alums, including yours truly, to join the group for some of the games over break.

I'm very excited to get an opportunity to play my tuba once again at the CEC, and look forward to filling the old arena with whatever sound I can still muster.  I am not, however, excited to perform the traditional tuba cheer.  It's an act that was meant for younger knees than mine, and I ask for your patience as I bumble through.

Still, if you're going to be in attendance for either the Oregon State and Oregon men's games, or the Cal and Stanford women's games, give a look out for the fat tuba player who is clearly too old for this shit.  That would be me.  Also, if you're taking odds on whether or not I fall over, put me down for $20 on 'does not.' I still got a (very) little game.


Today in the bag, I'm talking the big win over Georgia, how CU looks to start out Pac-12 play, and the goings on in week 17 of the NFL

Click below for the bag...

Buffs close out non-conference play with blowout of Georgia - 

The win may not have been as big as it could've/should've been, but a 84-70 romp over a very indifferent Georgia side will serve nicely as the final non-conference performance of the season.

The Buffs overcame a shaky defensive performance, which saw them allow 50% shooting and 24 layup attempts, by putting on an offensive show for the nearly 11,000 fans in attendance.  CU shot 51% from the field themselves, including a nice 8-20 from beyond the arc, and a perfect 26-26 from the free throw line.  In total, CU would score over 1.3 points per possession in the game, despite sacrificing a few scoring opportunities at the ends of each half.  To date, it was probably the most impressive and effusive the offense has looked.
Josh Scott, and the rest of the starters, were nearly perfect on offense.  From: the BDC
It helps when every starter has a great game.  All five finished in double figure scoring, and the quintet combined to shoot 65% from the field, and notch 73 of CU's 84 points.  Askia Booker lead the way with 19 points on 7-12 shooting, just the latest in a run of efficient performances from the of-maligned shooting guard.  However, the best individual performance on the evening came from Josh Scott, who tallied 14/13, and completely owned the paint on both ends of the court.  Without Josh's quiet dominance, the Buffs would've been in an uncomfortable situation.

On defense, the porous play was a direct result of a lack of focus and execution.  The Buffs were clearly the better side from the tip, but it didn't seem to me that the team had their heads into stopping the Bulldogs. Open backcuts and loose cutters were the clearest sign of an unfocused effort, but the allowed 40 points in the paint to a team without a imposing front line is also worrisome.  That said, it's a performance that is completely out of the norm for a defense still 27th nationally in adjusted points allowed per possession; I wouldn't anticipate a carryover.
Too many layups allowed, but that seems like an aberration, rather than a permanent shift.  From: the BDC
What I'll most easily take away from this game is the fact that it was a solid tuneup for Pac-12 play.  Rather than playing a team like Morgan St (like Oregon did), the Buffs played a game against a power conference team that could, at least, match up with them physically.  There was still a large talent gap, but the jump in ability from Georgia to Oregon State isn't that dramatic.  Good on Coach Boyle for scheduling competently.

Looking ahead to the start of Pac-12 play - 

I don't want to get too far ahead of reality, or even jinx a good thing before it happens, but the Buffs have a great opportunity to start Pac-12 play on a 6-0 run.  *runs outside, turns around three times, and spits* Should all that fall into place, CU would probably be in the top-10 headed into their Jan 23rd meeting with Arizona in Tucson.  Wouldn't that be a hell of a set-up?

I'm serious!  Take a look at the schedule.  With four home games and a winnable trip to the Washingtons out of the gate, they have an opportunity to completely reverse their fortunes of a year ago, when an emotional letdown against Arizona propelled the team into a 1-4 stumble against the Pac-12.  Would a CU win in any of those games come as a surprise? Not in my eyes, and I'll bet CU is listed as the Vegas favorite in each one.

Still skeptical?  How about some statistical support to my argument?  Kenpom agrees with me.  His site ($) lists the Buffs as 60% favorites or higher in each of the six games, with the shortest odds in home tilts against Oregon (61% chance of victory) and UCLA (67%).  While the students won't be back for the game against the Ducks, I'm happy to take CU's chances in any game played at the CEC.

Now, of course, if you expand those odds, the chance of CU running the table in Kenpom's world is about 16%.  Not terrible, all things considered, and if you can get Vegas to give you better odds than that on a parlay, I'd recommend the action.

Get ready, because the month of January could be a fun one for Colorado Basketball.

Around the nation of football - 


- Green Bay 33 - Chicago 28 - 

Echoing a theme that has run consistently throughout the season, the Bears' defense let the team down at a critical juncture.  This time, the fail came in the guise of a back-breaking 48-yard touchdown reception surrendered to Randal Cobb on a fourth-and-ballgame play.  With less than a minute remaining, the score all but ended the contest, and Chicago, a team already unworthy of the title 'division champion,' let a sure thing slip through their fingers.  As a result, the Packers, similarly unworthy, sneak into the postseason.
Not again.  Please, football gods, not again.
- Philadelphia 24 - Dallas 22 - 

Speaking of unworthy entrants into the NFC playoffs, point and laugh at the Dallas Cowboys, who, once again, found a way to turn the worst division in all of football into the Bataan death march.  In what has become a yearly right-of-passage for the NFL season, the Cowboys blew a win-and-in opportunity, as backup QB Kyle Orton threw a game-clinching interception late in the fourth quarter.  The Philadelphia Eagles, in not exactly impressive fashion, sneak into the playoffs, as a result.

- San Diego 27 - Kansas City 24 - 

With both Miami and Baltimore losing early in the day, all the Chargers needed to make the playoffs was to avoid a loss in their season finale against the Chiefs.  With KC benching many of their starters, it looked all but assured on paper. However, for most of regulation, it was the Chargers who were on the ropes.  A late missed field goal from the Chiefs saved San Diego, sending the game into overtime, where the Charger defense held strong enough to claim victory.  As a result, the AFC West, though by many to be the worst division in all of football back in August, sends three teams to the playoffs.
They seem happy.

- Carolina 21 - Atlanta 20 - 

The Carolina Panthers completed the most dramatic turnaround in the league with their one-point win over the Falcons on Saturday.  After starting the season 1-3, the Panthers rallied to reel off 11 wins in 12 games to earn a first round bye in the forthcoming playoffs.  Not an entirely impartial observer (Cam Newton has anchored my fantasy team for the last three seasons), I will admit to being thrilled by the run for the post-season.  Congrats!

Happy Monday!

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