As of now, Colorado is sitting at 11-10, and 7th place in the Pac-12. With nine games remaining in the Buffaloes season, how will they finish out the season, and how will their finish influence what the postseason holds for them? CU has not fully lived up to the huge expectations that were placed upon them this season, due to injuries, mental lapses, and a few unlucky bounces. Still, the Buffs have the chance completely rework the course of this season with a big winning streak. On the other side of the coin, Colorado could completely fall apart and end the season in a heaping pile of doubt, giving the Tad haters more ammo to whine about getting rid of him. There are plenty of outcomes in between as well. So, just how will the Buffs finish out this season?
The Miraculous Turnaround:
Outcome: Colorado has a sudden realization of how to fix all of their problems and discover their panacea. The Buffaloes go on a run that goes down as the biggest midseason turnaround in CU's history and only lose one game, if that, out of their final nine. The Buffs end the season 20-10 or 19-11, catch everybody's eye as the year concludes, and make a huge run in the Pac-12 Tournament where they make the finals and either pull off a huge upset win against Arizona or Utah, or come up just short. Still, that is enough for them to convince the selection committee. The Buffs earn a birth into the NCAA Tournament, make a short run, and then are eliminated by a high seed.
Probability: Slim to none. Actually closer to none. For this to occur, the Buffs would have to beat both Arizona and Utah, not to mention Stanford too. Plus, CU has four road games remaining and they have only managed to win one this year, and it came in triple overtime against the worst team in the conference. It would take a tremendous effort from Askia Booker, Wesley Gordon, and Jaron Hopkins. The bench would have to take their play to the next level. Lastly, Josh Scott would have to return from his back issues and play the best basketball he's ever played in his career. Not saying the Buffs do not have it in them, but this incredibly rapid transformation would take something close a miracle, especially at this point in the season. Still, maybe a huge upset against Utah, or Stanford might just give Colorado the spark they need to make this tremendous run.
A Good Showing:
Outcome: The Buffs finally start putting two and two together and go on a small run to finish out the season. Colorado begins to address the problems that troubled them all season and pull out a few extra close wins. The Buffs either beat Utah or Stanford at home and give Arizona a good showing as well. They go 3-1 on the road, to help boost their record down the stretch. The fans get to enjoy a nice finish to the season, and all the Tad haters seem to go away. They win two games in the Pac-12 Tournament before Utah or Arizona puts them back in their place. CU doesn't have a good enough record to make the Big Dance, but gets a decent bid into the NIT and make a solid run.
Probability: Not bad. But, I wouldn't hold my breath for it. There is a possibility that Colorado pulls an upset versus Stanford at home. Since Utah shoots much better from deep, that will most likely be the achilles heel for the Buffs against the Utes. If CU can somehow contain Stanley Johnson, and cover AU's three point shooters semi-decently, Colorado might be able to make the Wildcats sweat with a close game. The biggest issue with this prediction is the fact the Buffs would win three of their final four road games. They lost to Washington at home already and have yet to face Oregon or Oregon State this season. So, they may not do as well on the road as they need to in order to achieve a finish such as this. But taking advantage to address their biggest defensive issues on this extended break is a very big step in the right direction.
Outcome: Colorado continues to play as they have done all season, good but not great. Everything they've done up to this point continues to be that way for the remainder of the season. They accept their problems and choose not to address them. CU comes up just short against Stanford and gets crushed by both Utah and Arizona, but win the rest of their home games. On the road they beat WSU and maybe Oregon State, if they're not able to fix their own problems. But, can't beat UW or OU. The Buffs finish the season 15-15 and get one win in the Pac-12 Tournament, to finish 16-15. Colorado gets an invitation to participate in the CBI, which, no matter how small, is a victory for the Buffaloes.
Probability: If I we're to bet on how the Buffs would finish, I'd take this outcome nine times out of ten. Colorado has underwhelmed everyone with their performance this season and what problems haven't been addressed yet, will probably remain unaddressed. I can't really see the Buffs being able to stop Utah or Arizona, and there is a good chance, CU will not have enough in the tank against Stanford because of Chasson Randle and Stefan Nastic. Plus, the Cardinal shoots pretty well from beyond the three point arc. Every road game will be a toss-up if the Buffs remain at their current level of play. Be prepared to brace yourself, if this isn't the finish you wanted.
The Midseason Slide:
Outcome: It's not the most desired finish. With the long midseason break, the Buffs return sluggish and tired. After they get blown out by Utah, their confidence is completely and utterly shattered. They barely beat Cal and ASU at home, and get destroyed by Stanford and Arizona to make matters worse. The road games are even more painful. They aren't able to muster up even one win. Colorado finishes under .500 for the first time in the Tad Era, and lose in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament. At least the Buffs would have an entire off season to figure out how to fix their problems, and also come to the realization they don't have a recruiting class for next year.
Probability: Just enough to make you feel uncomfortable. It all depends on how the Buffs come back from their full week of no games. If they come out strong, as usual, this shouldn't happen. But, if CU returns flat, everybody should take caution. The disappointing road play might actually be a possibility. But, hopefully the Buffs will play well at home, to help offset the impending road losses. Still, the fact that this slide could happen makes me feel uneasy, very uneasy.
The "We Still Miss Spencer Dinwiddie" Campaign:
Outcome: Everything that could go wrong, does go wrong. Scott's back spasms do not go away, the bench fades into obscurity, Booker spends more time Instagramming about his wife than focusing on his play, Thomas and Hopkins completely lose their confidence, and Tad loses more hair. The Buffs maybe beat a struggling USC or OSU, and that's a big maybe. The end of the season comes and all the uninformed fans cry to fire Tad. (Because they only have short term memories.)
Probability: Not Likely. While this is always a possibility, the chance of this happening is quite small. Askia Booker has completely changed his game and he understands his role as a leader, there is no way he reverts to old ways. The bench will probably continue to play up to their current level, maybe a little less due to the wear of the long season. Thomas and Jaron have transitioned well into their leadership rolls and should continue to grow. The only possibility is that Scott continues to suffer from back problems. But, that about it. Don't let the fear of this epic fallout keep you up at night. (If it does, feel free to call me.)
With so many paths this season can still take, it is exciting to see all the potential the Buffs still contain. Let's only hope the Buffs can put together a good second half performance in Pac-12 play to help erase some of the bad memories that linger from the non-conference games. Nevertheless, we must continue to root for Colorado and remember that all it takes is one good game to change the course of this season.