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NCAA Basketball Colorado BuffaloesPac 12 Basketball

5 Things Colorado Basketball Must Do To Make 2014 NCAA Tournament

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5 Things Colorado Basketball Must Do To Secure An NCAA Tournament Bid

Ron Chenoy- USA TODAY Sports

At one point this season, the Colorado Buffaloes looked like a sure thing to earn a bid for the NCAA Tournament. The Buffs were surging up the ranks following wins over then-No. 6 Kansas and then-No. 10 Oregon, peaking with a No. 15 ranking in the Associated Press poll on Jan. 6.

But then, CU's world came crumbling down. On Jan. 12, the Buffs lost star point guard and NBA prospect Spencer Dinwiddie to a torn ACL. Dinwiddie was averaging 14.7 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. Suddenly, there was empty production on offense.

The Buffaloes were pummeled in three of their next four games against the premier teams in the Pac-12, losing by double-digits to Arizona, Arizona State and UCLA. The slide cast a shadow of doubt on whether or not CU would be able to formulate success without their best players.

Now, the Buffs have won five of their last seven games in the Pac-12. Sophomore forward Josh Scott has been tremendous for the team, tallying 17 points or more in five of those contests.

However, Colorado is just 1-5 against the top-five teams in the Pac-12 this season, and are teetering on the edge of an at-large bid. But the Buffaloes still have several chances to prove they belong with games against Stanford and California and the Pac-12 tournament on the horizon.

With its NCAA tournament bid in doubt, here's what Colorado must do to secure a bid to the NCAA Tournament this season.

Andrew Tredinnick is an ACC basketball writer for Follow him on Twitter @tred_nation, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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5. Fill The Voice Left By Spencer Dinwiddie

Ron Chenoy- USA TODAY Sports

The Buffaloes lost arguably their best player on Jan. 12 when Dinwiddie went down with a torn ACL. Xavier Talton and Jaron Hopkins have filled in for the Buffs star point guard. The two replacements are both young and raw, but they must do the little things, like minimizing turnovers and combine to produce on offense to help Colorado win games.

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4. Beat Utah

Ron Chenoy- USA TODAY Sports

This game is not going to be easy. The Utes have a sneaky home-court advantage and are playing much better basketball than previous years. For CU, this game is about putting an 88-61 loss to Arizona in the rear-view mirror and avoiding a tail-spin that could cost it a shot in the Big Dance.

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3. Secure A Bye In The Conference Tournament

Ron Chenoy- USA TODAY Sports

Five teams stand the best chance of grabbing one of three remaining spots, with Arizona already clinched a share of the conference title -- UCLA, Arizona State, Colorado, Stanford and California. The last four teams are all tied with a 9-6 conference record, and the Buffs play Stanford and Cal during their stretch run. A first-round bye would provide more credibility and an easier run to pick up quality wins for Colorado.

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2. Become More Efficient On Offense

Ron Chenoy- USA TODAY Sports

The Buffaloes are in the bottom of the league in several meaningful offensive categories this season. Colorado scores an average of 73.6 points per game and shoots the ball at a 44.5 percent clip, which are the 10th-best in the Pac-12. Five of CU's eight losses this season have come when the Buffs score 60 points or less.

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1. Continue Doing What They Do Best

colorado rebounding
Ron Chenoy- USA TODAY Sports

Rebounding the basketball. Colorado is one of the most supreme rebounding teams in the Pac-12 and the nation this season. The Buffaloes are 13th in the nation in rebounding margin, out-rebounding opponents by an average of 6.9 rebounds per game. With sophomore forward Josh Scott leading the way with 8.7 boards per game, CU is among the three best teams in the Pac-12 in every major rebounding category.