College basketball officially starts on November 11 when the Colorado Buffaloes take on the Sacramento State Hornets. That game, which should be a blowout, opens up the Buffs’ non-conference schedule, which is loaded with dangerous opponents (only one is a true home game). After non-conference ends with a blowout of Eastern Washington, the Pac-12 awaits with fury.
There is potential for a magical run, potential for absolute disaster, and everything in between. This season will make you laugh, cry and cheer, sometimes all at once.
Embrace the madness, befriend it, take it to a nice dinner, maybe dessert after, remember to be confident, make jokes, and if all goes well, everything will come together and you’ll have something immortal in memory.
Whatever the madness that occurs, it will be two- or three-fold inside Coors Event Center. For all the crucial games the Buffs will play, an inordinate number will be at home, where it’s critical for them to emerge victorious. We know you can’t make it to every home game, but if you had to pick the most important games to attend, that’s the point of this article.
Colorado State (11/30)
This game is here not because of its resume-building qualities — CSU shouldn’t be very good this season — but because of its cultural weight. Boulder is superior to Ft. Collins, CU is a better school than CSU, the Buffs are signficantly better at football than the Rams, etc. We all know these assertions as truth, yet the other side sees otherwise; such failures in judgement led them to where they are now. This game is Colorado’s chance to dropkick the Rams and make a statement to the state and to the nation that they’re for real. When that happens, it should be exhilarating to be a CU fan in attendance.
Xavier begins the season ranked 7th and 8th in the AP and Coaches Polls, respectively. Led by Trevor Bluitt, future NBA player, the Musketeers have potential to win the Big East and make a serious March Madness run. They scheduled the Buffs as a potential resume-building non-conference win that the selection committee loves so much.
Meanwhile, Colorado has a good shot at upsetting Xavier — the Buffs MIGHT even be better than Xavier, plain and simple — and securing their signature non-conference win. Hosting a winnable game against a Top-10 team should bring out the masses. Perhaps their rowdiness can propel the Buffs to the win.
UCLA is the biggest boom-or-bust candidate in the Pac-12, maybe even in all of college basketball. Everyone thinks added experience and teenage phenom Lonzo Ball will take the Bruins to heights unseen in the Steve Alford Era.
The Buffs will host the Bruins in their Pac-12 home opener. Whether or not the Bruins boom or bust, this could be the most fun crucial win. If they bust, the Buffs could potentially run up the score while Alford’s seat gets so hot it combusts. And no matter which team UCLA is, Bryce Peters is still going to dunk on Thomas Welsh so emphatically that the basket comes crashing down from the ceiling.
Oregon is hands down the best team in the Pac-12 and they have a chance to be the best team in the nation. If they live up to their potential — it’s hard to underachieve with Dana Altman — the Buffs may be sizable underdogs at home. The crowd and elevation can bridge that gap, especially if this game is as crazy as Oregon-Colorado games have been in the past. With that environment and in a game that could be the biggest home upset since 2013 against Kansas, this game is must-attend.
Like Oregon and UCLA, Cal has the upside of an elite team. With so much returning talent — including and especially Naismith contender Ivan Rabb — Colorado will have their hands full in their home finale. Of course, that game is Senior Day, and for a team with four fifth-year seniors and a student section full of loyal seniors, this may be the most important home game of the year. Winning would be unforgettable for everyone involved.