The University of Colorado has a big opportunity on their hands this weekend as they play their final two home games of the season. The Buffs sit alone in 3rd place in the Pac-12 conference at 10-4 just a game and a half back of leaders Cal and Washington. If they are able to win out they would put themselves in a position to be crowned the Pac-12 regular season champions.
But are they ready to be considered champions?
It’s been a long time since Colorado basketball was relevant in a conference championship race. Since the 1972-73 season the Buffs have only been in contention for a conference title three times. Although this team does not have the star power that last year’s team did with Alec Burks and Cory Higgins, this year’s team has balanced scoring and plays stellar defense.
They rank first in the Pac-12 in defensive field goal percentage (38.9), defensive points allowed (60.4) and defensive rebounding (27.6). They have the leading candidate for Defensive Player of the Year in Andre Roberson, who also leads the conference in rebounds per game, blocks per game and double-doubles with 16. Although they don’t have a player averaging over 15 points for the first time since 2001 the Buffs have 4 players who average double figures in points per game.
The problem that the Buffs have had at times this season is lack of focus on the road. They are a young team, for the most part, that at times becomes complacent and then finds themselves in a double-digit hole. They are 3-4 on the road this season which is an improvement from past years but those wins came against the bottom of the conference. A win is a win but for the Buffs to be considered real contenders they have to start beating quality opponents on the road and not just bottom feeders.
Colorado has a huge chance this weekend to put themselves in a great position to win the Pac-12. They have two home games left, where they are the only undefeated team at home during conference play (7-0), and two road games against the Oregon schools. If they can go 3-1 the rest of the way, the Buffs can lock up a first round bye for the conference tournament and possibly a regular season conference championship.
It’s time to see if these Buffs are ready to be considered champions as they take on Stanford and Cal for their last two home games of the year.