Today is a pretty big day in the Colorado Buffalo sports world. The 2010 football season begins and the men's basketball team tries to even their regular season record at 15 - 15 against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. A win today would get the Buffs an #8 seed in the Big 12 tournament and a matchup with either the Red Raiders or the Oklahoma Sooners next week in Kansas City.
If Colorado wins the next two, you can make a great argument that the NIT post season tournament will come knocking considering they would have won four in a row and five of their last seven. Let's not get ahead of ourselves too much but what an improvement that would be for Jeff Bzdelik and his squad. Tech comes in struggling, losing six straight and eight of their last ten. The Red Raiders are 3 - 8 on the road this season and 1 - 7 away from Lubbock in the Big 12. The Buffs, on the other hand, are 12 - 3 in Boulder.
Currently, Colorado is a 4.5 point favorite.
Live game thread will be up today at 1:30 pm MT. The game is televised on Altitude or ESPN360 and is in Boulder so hopefully we see a packed house to support the Buffs.
Links after the jump, a good mix of both sports today. Let the fun begin!
But both Colorado (14-15, 5-10) and Texas Tech (16-13, 4-11) rely heavily on two players. All four rank among the top 14 scorers in the Big 12 Conference. For CU, of course it’s junior guard Cory Higgins (18.6 points per game) and freshman guard Alec Burks (16.6). For Tech, it’s a pair of juniors: guard John Roberson (14.6) and forward Mike Singletary (14.7).
In no surprise, but good news for Colorado basketball fans, nonetheless, junior guard Cory Higgins said he will return for his senior season. Higgins, tied for third among Big 12 scorers with 18.6 points per game, said he may test the NBA waters this spring by declaring for the 2010 NBA draft and going through pre-draft camps before pulling out.
After finishing the regular season against visiting Texas Tech on Saturday, the Colorado men’s basketball team may have to turn right around and face the Red Raiders again on Wednesday in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, as the Nos. 8 and 9 seeds.
But with an impressive mini-run over the past two weeks, the Buffs have positioned themselves on the fringe of postseason participation this season. Winning what amounts to a pair of "elimination games" in their next two outings, with both most likely against Texas Tech, could get them in this March's fray. Round One against the Red Raiders comes Saturday at the Coors Events Center (2 p.m., Altitude). Round Two could occur next Wednesday in Kansas City's Sprint Arena on the opening day of the Big 12 Conference's postseason tournament.
What’s been the toughest part of transitioning from the high school game to college basketball for you? Probably the speed and the physicality. They’re all grown men out there, so you have to get used to playing like that after playing four years against high school kids. That’s probably been the biggest adjustment for me.
FRESHMAN OF THE YEAR Alec Burks, Colorado, guard: The Grandview product is the leading freshman scorer in the Big 12 (16.6 ppg) and also paces Colorado in rebounding (4.7 rpg). He's shooting a stellar 53.1 percent from the field and has help the Buffaloes turn into one of the Big 12's most improved team, with a chance to finish with five more league wins than it had last season.
CU’s attendance is illustrating its progress. While the Buffs enter the regular season’s final weekend last in the Big 12 in attendance — and will probably finish there for the fifth straight season — CU’s average of 6,096 is its highest since 6,858 in 2002-03. That was the last time it played in the NCAA Tournament. The program hasn’t averaged more than 6,000 fans per game since that year. Last year’s average was 4,637. CU reported Friday that 7,500 tickets had been sold for today.
As Nebraska coach Doc Sadler pored over tape of Colorado earlier this week, he confirmed his preseason assessment of the Buffaloes. Sadler pointed out Colorado's near-miss of an early upset of Kansas and its battle into the last two minutes with Kansas State -- the Big 12's top two teams -- before offering this conclusion: "There is no doubt in my mind that Colorado, in a lot of leagues, would have a much better record," he said. "Probably 7-8 wins."
With receiver Markques Simas suspended and facing an uncertain future due to his recent arrest for suspicion of DUI, Clemons’ presence has become more important. CU finished last in yards and 10th in points in the Big 12 last season. It has lacked playmakers at receiver in recent years. Clemons said he likes to stretch the field and turn short gains into big ones. CU would like to see that, too. "My whole thing is, I pride myself on run-after-the-catch abilities," he said. "I was a running back as a little kid. I kind of like to pretend I still have that type of running back abilities. "I want to be used any way they want to use me. That’s not a problem. I’m not looking to be used specifically. It’s just wherever they feel there’s weaknesses where I can fill in and use my strengths to balance it out, I’ll probably get used that way."
1. What’s the mood? This program has taken its lumps the past two years.
2. We’re not so green anymore, are we? The Buffs can’t play the inexperience card in 2010.
3. What difference will Robert Prince make? He succeeds head coach Dan Hawkins as the wide receivers coach.
4. Will the special teams improve? Despite a regular emphasis on them, CU was last in punting and punt returns in the Big 12 in 2009.
5. What about that O-line? The Buffs allowed the most sacks — 44 — and owned the smallest yards-per-rush average — 2.8 — in the Big 12 in 2009.
6. Colorado The Buffaloes didn’t earn much respect around the conference after giving up 54 points to Toledo in an early-season loss in 2009. They finished with three close losses at Iowa State and Oklahoma State before finishing the season with a home loss to North champ Nebraska. If Colorado wants to dig itself out of the North basement, it’ll need Tyler Hansen to play like he did in the first half of a win over Kansas in Hansen’s first start, when the Buffaloes charged to a 24-3 second-quarter lead behind two Hansen touchdowns.
11. Colorado Tyler Hansen and Toney Clemons bring some excitement to the Buffaloes spring, but the offensive line is also a concern. Maxwell Tuioti-Mariner returns from injury to help talented lineman Nate Solder protect Hansen and pave the way for running back Rodney Stewart, one of just three scholarship backs who will practice this spring.