Compared to last season, Colorado’s Pac 12 conference opener in 2012-2013 is anything but a cakewalk.
In their inaugural Pac 12 basketball opener a season ago, the Buffs were able to dominate Rocky Mountain rival Utah by 40 points and it gave them confidence as they embarked on the rest of their conference schedule. This season they won’t get the same luxury as Tad Boyle and Colorado take on No. 3 Arizona tonight in Tucson.
Last year the two teams split the season series, each winning on their respective home floors, but Colorado won the game that mattered most. These two team met in last year’s Pac 12 tournament championship game and Colorado came away with a 53-51 victory, securing an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament while preventing Arizona a trip to the big dance.
This year both team’s are a lot better and Boyle thinks that the Wildcats are way more talented than they were a season ago.
“Oh, absolutely it’s not even close. I mean they were a good team last year, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they weren’t tough last year but Mark Lyons brings another dimension to their team…. they’re a good team and we have a lot of respect for them but we’re a good team too.”
Is this series evolving into a budding rivalry? It’s definitely possible.
“I would like to think so” Colorado guard Spencer Dinwiddie said after practice on Monday. “They are a perennial power in the Pac 12, especially with UCLA having its ups and downs, Arizona seems to consistently be there and in a lot of ways they are where we want to be. They are a very good team and I would like to think of them as our rival.”
First things first, Colorado needs to prove that they can beat a quality team on the road, something that they have failed to do so far this season. The Buffs won the Charleston Classic but those game were played on a neutral court and playing a true road game is a whole different animal. In their two true road games against good opponents, Wyoming and Kansas, Colorado lost both of them and got blown out by the Jayhawks.
For Dinwiddie, a member of last year’s team that beat Arizona in the conference title game, he relishes the opportunity to earn a statement victory. “Of course. The two good teams that we did play on the road, we lost and to be able to win this game would be huge for us. We’re going in there to do that, it’s not a game where we are looking for a moral victory. We’re looking to go in there and we are looking to beat them.”
Boyle echoes that thought.
“It’s an opportunity for us to go down there and show what we’re all about in a tough environment.”
David LaRose is one of the featured College Basketball writers for Rant Sports covering the Pac 12 and the University of Colorado. He’s also a member of the U.S. Basketball Writer’s Association of America. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page