For the third time this season, the Colorado Buffaloes have been ranked in the first five spots in the AP Poll. The Buffs were ranked #8 before beating then-#12 Utah Utes on Saturday.
The Buffs made their first appearance in the top-5 after defeating the LSU Tigers in their season debut. The Tigers were the reigning national champs, the preseason #1 and still haven’t lost since Colorado beat them, 92-78. The Buffs moved up to #3 the following week, but fell back to #8 after losing to the NC State Wolfpack. Unranked in the preseason polls, Aziaha James and the Wolfpack have won all thirteen of their games this season and currently rank third in the country.
Despite playing a difficult schedule, the Buffs have only been challenged by NC State and Utah. Even then, the Utah game was strange because Quay Miller played only 11 minutes due to foul trouble and Frida Formann shot 1/9 from the field. Thank goodness for Jaylyn Sherrod being the best guard in the Pac-12 and to Sara-Rose Smith for playing her best game in a Colorado uniform.
The Pac-12 schedule will be tough. It’s manageable early, as the Buffs will travel to Arizona and Arizona State, then play the Cal Bears at home. UofA and Cal could be tricky, but this Colorado team is miles better than either, and they should suffocate them with their energy and defense.
After that begins the murderer’s row of #8 Stanford, #2 UCLA and #6 USC, all of them at the CU Events Center. These games should break records for crowd attendance and make for a raucous home environment. It’s not an exaggeration to say this will be the most important three-game stretch in the last 25 years of Colorado basketball, men or women.
Also of note, the men’s team sits just outside the Top 25 yet again. They’re unofficially 28th and have hovered around that number since losing to Florida State in early December.