ALBUQUERQUE, NM - MARCH 15: Head coach Tad Boyle of the Colorado Buffaloes gestures from the sideline against the UNLV Rebels during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Pit on March 15, 2012 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
On Thursday night, the Colorado Buffaloes won their first NCAA Tournament game since the 1997 Chauncey Billups led team took down Indiana before falling to North Carolina in the second round. Now it isn't about "first time since's" anymore. These Buffaloes aren't playing for a "good" season, they're playing for the right to continue on towards the Final Four and a chance to win a championship. Tonight, when the Buffaloes take the floor against the Baylor Bears they will do so as one of only 32 teams (actually even less at that point) whose tournament dream will still be alive.
Their road got a whole clearer on Friday. Both Duke and Notre Dame fell to lower seeds, with the Blue Devils becoming the second two-seed to lose that day. If the Buffaloes can pull out a victory against Baylor, only Leigh or Xavier will stand in between them and the Elite Eight. Instead of a game against Duke or even a Fighting Irish team that has been streaky throughout the year but can turn it on at times, the Buffs would be facing a team who's appearance in the Sweet 16 is nearly (or more, in the case of Leigh) unlikely than their own.
But Baylor is not going to be an easy out. They will be very to tough to defeat, actually. They are a Big-12 team full of athletic bigs that run and move much more than people that size should be able to. They closed the twelve-point gap on South Dakota State like a flip of a switch and while they didn't pull away until late, it seemed as though they just decided to get lazy again. But Colorado has beaten teams with similar pedigree's. Maybe not quite as impressive across the board, but the Buffs have figured out a way to get past other squads with similar mismatches.
Colorado has come out of the gate strong in the last four games since the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament against Utah. In each of those games, with the slight exception of California, the offense has sputtered down the stretch and allowed their opponents to crawl their way back into it. If Colorado hopes to take down Baylor and keep this magical ride going for another week, they're going to have to play consistent, hard-nosed basketball on both ends of the floor. Tad Boyle has this team believing that they can do things that a few weeks ago, none of us thought were possible. If we've made it this far, who says we can't keep on going?
Let's go Buffs.