Coming off a bittersweet week that saw the Buffs blowout Auburn and get blown out in Wyoming, Colorado has a gajillion times easier week with games against Air Force on Tuesday night and Lipscomb Sunday afternoon, both at home. With Josh Scott looking phenomenal, Xavier Johnson appearing to take the next step and Dom Collier looking like an immediate fan favorite, both of these upcoming contests should be victories, but we'll preview both games anyway.
Colorado has had a neat little history with the Air Force Falcons, with the Buffaloes winning all three matchups in as many years. The 2011 matchup down south at the Academy went into overtime, but the most recent games have been blowouts. Air Force, possessing a 3-1 record, will be led by senior guard Max Yon. As hard as it is to take a player seriously when he has a total of six letters in his entire name, make no mistake, Yon has some game. The 6'4" shooting guard is Air Force's only real offensive threat and the Falcons needed all of it and Yon's three-point shooting prowess (he's 12-23 on threes this year) to get close victories over the Citadel, Colorado Christian and Western State. The latter two of those schools aren't even D-I, and the Citadel is barely. Air Force's only loss came to Army. Literally Army. Also worth noting, Yon's Reagan High School played against -- and was utterly decimated by -- Andre Roberson's Wagner High School when they were both San Antonio preps and Yon was a two-time high school All-American in swimming, which should be useful when he's drowning in threes, stroking it from deep or when he's lapping the competition.
Don't get too excited about an automatic win, because we've seen this story before. In 2012, the 19th-ranked Buffs were slated against a reeling Texas Southern in the sixth game of the season in what would be a roll-over. Lo and behold, the Bobcats, powered by Omar Strong's miraculous 39 points, took CU into double overtime before succumbing to Nate Tomlinson's tattoos. Yon could be Omar Strong, single-handedly propelling his team into contention with a barrage of long-distance bombs, something an Air Force cadet would happily oblige to do, and we saw what Drexel's Tavon Allen and Wyoming's Riley Grabau can do against a notorious Colorado three-point defense. That said, this should still be a comfortable victory, especially if the scrappy Xavier Talton is guarding Yon all game.
The Lipscomb Bison come into this November 30th game sporting a 2-2 record (but with a Monday night game at Belmont, an always stingy opponent) with a close loss at Vanderbilt, but whatever hope a close loss to Vandy carries was lost with a squeaker of a victory win over Transylvania, a D-II team that actually exists who is not called the Vampires (who let this happen, honestly?).
Looking at this roster, Lipscomb has two legitimate players in Josh Williams and Martin Smith, who are averaging 18 and 11 points per game, respectively. Williams, a 6'5" sophomore guard should be looking to slash his way to the rim and, subsequently, the free throw stripe, where he's averaging six attempts per game, about what Josh Scott averaged last year for comparison. Smith is more of a distributing wing with the ability to cut to the basket in addition to possessing a decent three ball. If Xavier Johnson and Xavier Talton are matched up on Williams and Smith and with Wesley Gordon and Scott protecting the rim, the Bison offense will stagnate and this should turn into an easy victory in which we'll cheer on the walk-ons running out the clock.
Come Sunday, we finally get to see the true difference between Bison and Buffaloes. My guess is about 30 points.