It would be impossible to start this story without acknowledging the awful tragedy that took place in Boulder today. Lives were lost unnecessarily mere hours before a team of Boulderites took the court in Indianapolis, reminding us all of how important perspective is when talking about sports against the backdrop of so much heartbreak. Our thoughts are with the families of those lost today and the entire Boulder community.
The Colorado Buffaloes took the court Monday night looking to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1969. They were riding high off a blow out win over the Georgetown Hoyas and looking to keep the momentum rolling against a Florida State team what was significantly more talented than the previous opponent.
Instead, the Buffs started the game cold and could never get going, falling to the Seminoles in a game it never really felt like they were in.
FSU junior guard Anthony Polite finished with a career-high 20 points, leading No. 4 Florida State past No. 5 Colorado for a third-straight Sweet 16 bid, 71-53, on Monday night in Indianapolis.
The Buffaloes (23-9) fell behind midway through the first half, but trailed by just four points at halftime. However, Colorado was never able to get to the free throw line or shoot consistently and would not take advantage of a slew of early Florida State mistakes. The Buffaloes shot 35.7% (20-56) from the field, and unlike making fourteen 3-pointers in the opening round vs. Georgetown, couldn’t find a rhythm from anywhere on the floor.
Florida State (18-6) controlled the tempo throughout and was finally able to generate a double-digit lead in the final seven minutes. The Noles played hard on both ends of the floor, shutting down any hope of a comeback for the Buffs, who stayed just close enough to keep things interesting for most of the game. Florida State’s length gave the Buffs major problems in the paint and foul trouble for McKinley Wright IV and Evan Battey forced Colorado to keep them off the floor for a good chunk of the second half.
Colorado cut FSU’s lead down to one with a 3-pointer from D’Shawn Schwartz with 11:54 to go. From that point on, the Seminoles went on an 11-3 run in the following 3:01 and never looked back, dashing Colorado’s hopes at a first-ever Sweet 16 in the modern tournament era.
The Buffs finished with three players in double-figures. D’Shawn Schwartz had 13 points to go along with Evan Battey’s 11 points and Wright’s 10 points in the losing effort.
Colorado came into the tournament as the highest-seeded Pac-12 team but are the first (and currently, only) participant from the conference to go home. As the Pac-12 runner-up, the Buffs end the season with more than 20 wins for a third-straight year.
Florida State advances to play No. 1 Michigan on Sunday (3/29). The Wolverines defeated No. 8 LSU, 86-78, on Monday night. As for the Seminoles, they’re looking for their second trip to the Elite Eight in four years. If Leonard Hamilton’s team can survive to the Final Four, it would be FSU’s first appearance since 1972.
The loss is a bitter end to a storied career for an incredible recruiting class for the Colorado Buffaloes. McKinley Wright, Even Battey, Tyler Bey, D’Shawn Schwartz, and Lazar Nikolic will go down as one of, if not the, best in Buffs history. They gave their all to Colorado and we can’t wait to see where they go next.