“If you believe in destiny, you believe in the Colorado Buffaloes because it was meant to be for us.”
Those were the words of Colorado head coach Tad Boyle after his Buffs defeated Arizona 53-51 in the Pac-12 Championship game Saturday evening to clinch their first ever conference championship. It was an improbable win for a program that was making it’s first conference title appearance since 1990 when they were still competing in the Big 8. It’s a huge step for Colorado basketball after being snubbed from the NCAA tournament last season and this time they did not want to leave it up to the selection committee to decide their fate.
They went through that disappointment once before and it was something that left a sour taste in their mouth.
“We dedicated this game to Cory Higgins, Levi Knutson, Marcus Relphorde, Trent Beckley, Javon Coney, and Alec Burks” Boyle said after the game. “Those six guys sat in my home last year on Selection Sunday for their last opportunity to go to the NCAA Tournament, and they were snubbed. That inspired us.”
The inspired Buffs played one of their best defensive games of the season on the biggest stage. They held Arizona to 37% from the field including a 5-19 performance from the best 3-point shooting team in the conference. Boyle has stressed all the season that the way to win games is to rebound and defend and that’s exactly what his team did tonight by out rebounding the Wildcats 37-28.
On the other end of the floor Colorado used balanced scoring to get the job done with three players scoring in double figures. Freshmen Spencer Dinwiddie led the way by hitting all four of his 3-point attempts and finishing with 14 points. Tournament MVP Carlon Brown was right behind with 13 points as he reached double figures in all four games the Buffs played this weekend. All-Tournament first team member Andre Roberson filled up the stat sheet (10 pts, 11 reb, 3 ast, 3 stls, 2 blks) on the way to his 19th double-double of the season.
In only his second season at the helm, Boyle has already set new school records for two-year win total (47) and postseason victories (9). Boyle has completely turned this program around and has led it to its first ever championship. He got overlooked for conference coach of the year but he should be considered for National COY for doing the most with the least. In what was considered a rebuilding year after, losing 75% of his offense from last season, Boyle has done an outstanding job with his young group of guys.
Now he and the rest of the Buffs can actually enjoy Selection Sunday in Boyle’s living room as the Buffs dance their way into the NCAA Tournament.