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This Week in Colorado Basketball: Cal & Stanford

Two good teams come into Boulder to endure Ski Season.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

After a week free of basketball, the Colorado Buffaloes will be set to host the California Golden Bears of California and the Stanford Cardinal, also of California. There are plenty of reasons to get uppity about Colorado needing triple overtime to get past the USC Trojans of California before getting whalloped by the UCLA Bruins of California, but it's time to get excited for the next couple of home games.

The first reason for excitement is the return of Josh Scott, who used last week's free time to recover from his chronic back spasms. When the PA announces his name for the time -- even if he's not in the starting lineup -- Coors Event Center will blow the roof off with thunderous applause. Xavier Johnson is has been back, but we'll have to hope his 0-for against the UCLA Bruins of California was because of lingering ankle issues, which should be gone by now. It is reassuring to know he didn't have to worry about re-injuring it over the bye. Askia Booker's hip pointer will also be healthy (I'm crossing my fingers while typing this) in time for Pac-12 play to resume. Thank goodness for the bye week!

So the thing about those bears and trees -- both of California -- is that they're both pretty good at basketball right now. Cal's best player at the moment is Tyrone Wallace, a 6'4" guard leading his team in points, rebounds and assists. Anybody can average nearly 20 points per game in major conference basketball (hehe right?), but only the most stupendous of basketball players can lead their team in rebounds and assists. The scariest part is that you and I both know with Wallace guy is going to grab a board and go coast-to-coast at least four times Thursday night and there's nothing the Buffs can do to stop him. It feels like a good time to mention that according to Sports-Reference's advanced defensive stats, Wallace is a better defender than he is an offensive player.

Cal's second leading scored, Jordan Mathews, is shooting 45% from three-point range on five attempts per game. He'll be spotting up each and every time Wallace decides to go coast to coast. Mathews has been vital in each of Cal's four consecutive victories, including a road win over the 21st-ranked Washington Huskies (though UDub has lost each of their past five games with Andrew Andrews' buzzer-beater).

Stick to the bright side. Stick to the bright side. Stick to the br

Cal doesn't really match up well defensively with Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott, both of whom healthy after the bye week. Moreover, every conference loss Cal has suffered has come at the hands of an opposing big man dropping the hammer on their lackluster interior defense.

Like any studious high school senior applying for college, I'll express the words, "I'll just focus on Stanford right now and see where that gets me." Studying the Cardinal squad more and more leads me to believe that Chasson Randle goes hero-ball mode at the first sign of his team struggling. UCLA is in town and his teammates aren't hitting their shots right away? 32 points from Randle in 49 total minutes. Arizona is here to play lock-down defense and generally playing the most Arizona game ever? 26 from Randle while playing literally the entire game without even a breather on the bench. Not blowing out Washington State? 33 from Randle in 38 minutes. Does it really matter if Stanford lost each of those games? Not really. Randle should scare the shit out of you nonetheless.

When Randle gets some help from his teammates, Stanford is capable of upsetting a top-10 team on the road like they did in December against the Texas Longhorns.

Stick to the bright side. Stick to the bright side. Stick to the br

Stanford got mashed by DePaul, who the Buffs beat handily. Stanford barely beat Denver in Palo Alto. Damn that's it, I thought there was more. Ummm . . . they seem like one of those teams Xavier Johnson has a great game against? Let's go with that.

No matter what happens in either game, no matter whether Tyrone Wallace and Chasson Randle conspire against the great state of Colorado, Ski is still going to take his usual shots no matter what, which is an everlasting present in itself. If he's healthy.