As Colorado embarks on its final road trip of the regular season, one that is crucial for their NCAA tournament resume, it would be easy for it to look ahead to the bigger game of the two against Cal on Saturday. Cal is playing some of the best basketball in the conference and the matchup between two of the hottest teams in the Pac 12 is one to salivate over.
However, first things first, Colorado takes on a feisty Stanford team Wednesday night and the Buffs are focused solely on winning that game and getting their road trip started off on the right foot.
“The first one is important because it is the first one” head coach Tad Boyle said in preparation of their Bay Area road trip. “You can’t sweep without winning the first one so that’s where our attention is right now.”
If Colorado wants a shot at getting into the top four in the Pac 12, meaning a first-round bye in next month’s conference tournament, a sweep of Stanford and Cal would go a long way towards earning that bye.
“Cal is playing great and Stanford is playing pretty well but we already beat those guys” guard Askia Booker said after practice earlier this week. “I think if we can go over there and play the way we did here (in Boulder) we’ll be fine.”
In the earlier meeting between Colorado and Stanford, the Buffs were able to get out in transition that led to a 75-54 beat down. Colorado shot over 52 percent as a team and played one of their better all-around games of the season. The nation’s leading rebounder Andre Roberson finished the game by tying a career high of 20 rebounds and the Buffs saw a balanced scoring attack as all five starters scored over 10 points.
The road is a whole different animal for Colorado, though. CU is just 3-4 on the road during Pac 12 conference play but two of those three wins came in a sweep over the Oregon schools earlier this month. A sweep of a tough road trip like that will only give them confidence as they embark on another tough road trip.
“Anytime you can go on the road and get two victories in a row, it’s big” Spencer Dinwiddie said about their confidence on the road heading into this weekend. “It kinda proves to your team that you can win on the road. Coach actually told us we couldn’t have desserts when we went out on the road as a team but now we do (after the Oregon sweep) so that’s added incentive of course.”
Dinwiddie and company will try to get the first win of a crucial road trip on Wednesday and if they do, victory will taste a little more sweeter than usual.
David LaRose is a College Basketball writer for Rant Sports covering the Pac 12 and the University of Colorado. He’s also a member of the USBWA. You can follow him on Twitter or check out his Facebook page.