Powered by three upsets in two weeks, the Colorado Buffaloes are in great shape in the Pac-12. Now that they have survived the most difficult part of their schedule with a reasonable record, they have plenty of time to move up in the standings.
You could scoff at me saying it’s great that a team is 4-6 in conference play and 9th in the Pac-12, but Colorado’s schedule has been brutal thus far. With four games against the Arizona schools and road trips to Oregon and Los Angeles, the Buffs were expected to be winless in their first six games, but they managed to steal three hard-earned wins with incredible upsets. Assuming the other four games went as expected — which they did — their 4-6 record is fantastic, even if they’re currently 9th in the conference.
The flip side to Colorado having a difficult first 10 games is that their next 8 are fairly easy. The Buffs could potentially sweep the rest of their schedule. They won’t, but they could.
Colorado has five home games and three on the road. CU has proven that they can beat anybody at home, but it also helps that they host three mediocre-to-awful teams (Utah, Cal, Stanford), one team they’ve already beat on the road (UCLA), and another who’s coached by someone who has recently slighted Tad Boyle (USC). Colorado isn’t going to beat Washington on the road because that court is haunted, but we can expect them to at least split road games at Washington State and Utah.
The Buffs shouldn’t be expected to win or lose any game — they have proven to be unpredictable on a game-to-game basis — but if they take care of the games they should win, we have them at 5-3 or 6-2 the rest of the way. That would put them at 9-9 or 10-8 overall in Pac-12 play, which is just about where every good CU team has been in the Pac-12 era.
This record would have the Buffs around 6th or 7th in the conference standings, which would put them in decent position to win a game or two in the Pac-12 Tournament. Now, they won’t make the NCAA Tournament unless they make the conference championship (at least), but this late season run would have the Buffs in the NIT. There are fans that would be disappointed with Tad missing March Madness again, but those fans are insane. The NIT was the grand goal for this young team at the beginning of the season and we should be ecstatic to see them compete in it. (You could even argue that the NIT would be better than the NCAA Tournament because the former would likely mean more than one game for the Tadpoles to get experience.)
We have plenty of games left in the season and anything can happen — and I mean anything, like McKinley Wright getting abducted by aliens — but it’s worth projecting the Buffs the rest of the way to reset our expectations for the team.