Our friends over at Allbuffs have put together a season preview roundtable with some of the best Buffs basketball minds on the net. We'll be discussing the upcoming season all week long so go ahead and dive in.
Also, Bob and I have added two more writers who are going to help us cover the college basketball season and who will keep the content coming consistently all year long. Zach Bell, who you have already met, will be helping us with basketball recruiting and Parker Baruh, who you will meet this week, will be previewing and recapping the games.
Excitement in Boulder is high for this basketball season. And AllBuffs is here to help. We asked some of the more knowledgeable people supporting the program their thoughts on this season, and over the next five days leading up to tip-off of the 2011-12 season against Fort Lewis, we're going to give you their thoughts and tell you what to expect for the upcoming season. Along with both myself and Buffnik, here are the people that you're going to be hearing from over the next few days.
* Zach Bell, The Ralphie Report - Zach is one of the basketball writers for The Ralphie Report - SBNation's University of Colorado blog that has been covering the team on all angles since 2008. If you've been there, you know the quality that they put out. If you haven't, you're missing out. You can also follow them on twitter.
* RumblinBuff - A lot of you know him as "that one blogging guy". Rumblin' has one of the best Buffs blogs on the internet - not only because of its sports content, but also because of his weekly beer posts. You can also get tons of Buffs goodness (with the occasional White Sox comment) from his twitter feed.
* Tyler Ziskin - The man who started a facebook group for fans to support the CU Basketball program is one of the most knowledgeable fans on the internet. His passion for the program is almost unsurpassed, and his Twitter feed is always entertaining, even when he's (justifiably) making fun of my beloved Broncos.
So now that you know everyone, here's the breakdown of what we'll be covering.
* Monday, November 7th - The PAC-12
* Tuesday, November 8th - CU in 2011-12 (Part 1)
* Wednesday, November 9th - CU in 2011-12 (Part 2)
* Thursday, November 10th - CU in the Future (Part 1)
* Friday, November 11th - CU in the Future (Part 2)
First question after the jump...
Who is your PAC-12 champion, and who is your sleeper?
Tyler Ziskin - I see UCLA winning the Pac 12 title this season, they've got great front court depth returning in Josh Smith and Reeves Nelson. It will be interesting to see if the Wear twins can live up to the hype around them in HS, if so, they'll be a Top 10 team in my opinion.
I'm not sure this is truly a "sleeper" pick, but I think Cal has an outside shot at bringing home the conference title. The problem I have answering this is that there are really only four teams with a chance to win this year (UCLA, Cal, Arizona, and Washington)... and I don't think any of them would really be a sleeper choice. The other three are perennial basketball powers in the Pac 12, but Cal returns Jorge Gutierrez, Harper Kamp, and Allen Crabbe, which is by far the most lethal trio returning in the Pac 12.
Buffnik - UCLA to win. Close call over Arizona. But I'll take their frontcourt led by Josh Smith to go along with a great point guard in Lazeric Jones. They've got to find scorers from the 2 and 3, but they have lots of depth. The key for the Bruins will be to find chemistry on offense and limit turnovers. They play great defense and will also wear teams down with their size.
Cal as a sleeper. Gutierrez, Crabbe, Kamp and Smith give them a great core. But there's a big risk that they wear down from playing too many minutes. I'm not in love with their 2011 class, though, so I don't know if the depth they need is coming. If they can limit starter minutes and play teams close to even with their bench production, Cal's got a good chance to go far this season.
Zach Bell - Pac-12 champ is going to be Cal. Not many sleepers but probably Stanford could sneak up on teams. Very skilled sophomore class for Johnny Dawkins.
RumblinBuff - My champ was to be Arizona, but the exhibition loss to D-2 Seattle Pacific has given me pause. With them out, and my penchant for overlooking the overt front runner (UCLA, tabbed by the media as the preseason favorite) I'll go with Cal. I like their experience and their depth. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News pointed out that "Of the league's top-10 scorers (in conference games), only four will be back next season - and three of the four play for the Bears: Crabbe, Gutierrez and Kamp." Mike Montgomery is a fantastic coach and seems to have that program headed in the right direction.
In terms of sleeper, I think our very own Colorado Buffaloes will shock some people. Not in terms of "competing for a title," but certainly better than the bottom-third slots that many have CU pegged for.
Goose - A few months ago, I was going to pick Cal to win the conference AND be the sleeper, but it seems that everyone is slowly waking up to Cal. Montgomery is a great coach, and Jorge Gutierrez is one of the most underrated players in the nation. When you add Kamp and Crabbe, you have a solid nucleus that a lot of people are sleeping on. Oregon is really the only "sleeper" by default. After the top five, there's no one that really seems to have anything more than an outside shot at a tourney bid. I'm intrigued by Stanford, and I think CU is going to be better than everyone thinks, but the top five are safe.
Head over to Allbuffs to read the rest of part one.