Crunch Time: Colorado Heating Up At The Perfect Time

By John Engel
Scott Olmos-USA TODAY Sports

Less than one-year after winning the PAC-12 tournament, Colorado started conference play as one of the NCAA’s most disappointing teams. Now, the Buffalos appear to making a run that could win them the crown once again.

The Buffalos started conference play under undesirable circumstances as they lost four of their first five games in the PAC-12. Since then, Colorado is 5-1 with wins over Stanford, California and No. 19 Oregon. After sweeping the Oregon schools, Colorado prepares to host No. 7 Arizona at home on Feb. 14.

Can the Buffalos actually contend with one of the nation’s elite programs? Maybe.

Spencer Dinwiddie leads Colorado in scoring, and was instrumental in the Buffalos most recent victory over Oregon State. Dinwiddie finished perfect from the field and the free throw line, going 6-for-6 from the field, 4-for-4 from three and 8-for-8 from the charity stripe.

Colorado coach Tad Boyle couldn’t have summarized Dinwiddie’s talents better following his team’s win over Oregon State.

“We had Spencer Dinwiddie and they didn’t, and I thought that was the difference down the stretch,” Boyle told the Denver Post.

Dinwiddie has finished in double figures in 19 of 23 games, and has solidified himself as the leader of the Buffalos rotation. With Colorado’s next matchup being Arizona, it is critical that Dinwiddie has another on of his jaw-dropping performances.

In college basketball terms, there couldn’t be a better time for Colorado to begin heating up. With Oregon out of the way until March, the Wildcats (Feb. 14) are the test the Buffalos will have to pass in February. Stanford and Cal have both proved challenging for many teams in the PAC-12 and shouldn’t be overlooked. However, the Buffalos handily defeated both the Cardinals and the Golden Bears at home in January.

In the passing weeks I have been one of the bigger critics of Colorado because of their slow start, even though their conference record pinned them in the middle of the pack. With a 6-5 PAC-12 record, the Buffalos are now only two games behind the No. 1 seed. Following struggles for conference powerhouses — namely Arizona, Oregon, Arizona State and UCLA — Colorado now has a legitimate chance of being the third or fourth seed in the conference tournament.

Rarely can a team start so poorly in conference play and head into the final leg with  such a bright future. It’s obvious the Buffalos chose the best time to get things together.

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