All it takes is four games.
The Pac-12 postseason men’s basketball tournament begins tonight at T-mobile Arena in Paradise, Nevada.
Four wins stand between the Universality of Colorado and their first Pac-12 tournament championship since 2012.
Coach Tad Boyle‘s Buffaloes enter the postseason tournament as 9.5-point favorites against a Washington State team with a 15-16 record. Should the Buffs win, they’ll face No. 3 seed Arizona State in the second round.
Per the NCAA‘s announcement earlier today, the game will take place without a crowd to reduce the threat of coronavirus.
How the Buffaloes got here
Boyle’s team dropped their last regular-season game 74-72 to the Utah Utes. The loss put the Buffaloes’ record at 21-10. The 20-win season was the ninth in the past 10 years for the program.
However, the Buffaloes have stumbled into the postseason. They’ve lost five of their past seven games.
Before their Feb. 13 game at Oregon, the team was 19-5. They were 8-3 in conference play, poised to win their first regular-season Pac-12 title in school history.
However, they fell to eventual regular-season champ Oregon, as well as mediocre teams from:
- Oregon State
The team is looking to its top two scorers to break the skid tonight: guard McKinley Wright IV and forward Tyler Bey.
At least one of the two was the team’s leading scorer in 20 of the team’s games this season. Bey was the top rebounder and Wright IV led the team in assists.
How Colorado fared against the Cougars this season
The Buffaloes faced Washington State once this season: a 78-56 drubbing at CU Events Center. Forward Lucas Siewert led the team in rebounding and scoring that night. Three other players scored in double-digits.
Colorado’s defense got the job done, too, holding Washington St. to 37.3% from the field.
And the Buffaloes accomplished all this without Bey, who sat out the game due to a hand injury he sustained in practice that week.
Considering the performance they put on against the Cougars that night, there’s a good deal of optimism from oddsmakers that the Buffaloes will win again tonight.
The Buffs come into the game with an RPI of 28 but slim NCAA tourney hopes. Bracket guru Joe Lunardi has the Buffaloes on his “Next Four Out” list along with:
- Ole Miss
Colorado may have to win the Pac-12 tournament to get in.
What Washington St. brings to the table
The Cougars finished the season 6-12 in the conference and 15-16 overall. Only in-state rival Washington had a worse conference record. Despite their dismal final records, the Cougars showed life early in the season.
They finished their out-of-conference schedule 9-4 before dropping three of four in Pac-12 play.
The highlight of their season came at home against then-No.8 Oregon. The Cougs trounced the Ducks 72-61. Sophomore forward C.J. Elleby led the charge that night, scoring 25 points and pulling down 14 rebounds.
Elleby is the most dangerous weapon in the Washington St. offense. However, he seemed to lose steam at the end of the season, scoring a total of 16 points against Arizona and Arizona State.
If the Cougars have any chance of winning tonight, they’ll need Elleby to have a monster game.