We got a big game tonight. March Madness isn't just for NCAA Tourney teams. It is also for NIT teams. Like us! And Colorado.
Yes, future Pac-12mates will face off tonight. To learn more about the Buffs, we went and talked to SBN's Colorado site, The Ralphie Report. After the jump, they lay down all the inside info that you really don't need to know, but probably would like to know about our opponent tonight. GO BEARS!
1. Often times, bubble teams that fail to make the NCAAs flail about in the NIT, because they feel like they are too "good" for the NIT. Case in point: St. Mary's. Colorado thrashed its opening opponent. What did Colorado do to refocus itself for the NIT after the disappointing NCAA results?
I think you can look to coaching and senior leadership as well as Texas Southern not being that great of a team. Tad Boyle has done a good job with this team in his first year. I think he has the attention of his team and if he keeps recruiting like he did in his first offseason, the Buffs could be in good shape. Also, Colorado has a good amount of senior leadership in G Cory Higgins, F Marcus Relphorde and SG Levi Knutson. They could have folded in the first game but it helps to have seniors.
2. What do we need to know about buffalos basketball? Style of play, zone or man, best player, under the radar guy?
The Buffs like to push the pace especially at home. They are pretty tough to beat in Boulder with a 15-2 record, with close losses to Kansas and Texas A&M. Their best players are guards Alec Burks and Cory Higgins. Burks, a first team All Big 12 player, has put together another special year after his solid freshman season. He leads the team with 20.1 ppg but also gets work done on the boards (6.4 rpg) and assists (2.9 apg). Burks is a potential lottery pick who can flat out get to the rim. He still needs to work on his perimeter game but he has the length and the ability to be a good NBA player. Senior Cory Higgins has been a very good player over his career. He was key in the Big 12 tournament win over Kansas State scoring 28 points.
G Levi Knutson, who has really stepped up his senior year, is the Buffs' best threat from the outside. His first three years he never averaged over five points. This year he is just under 12 points a game. True freshman C/PF Andre Roberson has also been a surprise. Colorado has been notoriously bad in the big man category the past few years but Roberson has stepped in and provided a nice spark. He leads the Buffs in rebounds at just under 8 a game. He has been superb down the stretch with multiple double digit rebounding games.
3. Would you be willing to have one guy sit out to compensate for Markhuri Sanders-Frison dislocating his shoulder and ending his season?
Sure, next time specify which guy...you can have one of the guys who doesn't play much.
4. Does Ralphie run the court too?
I think we should play basketball outside in Boulder on grass (think Wimbledon) just to accommodate Ralphie.
5. Who do you want to punch in the face?
Gene Smith, selection committee head and Ohio State AD. I can tell you now, Colorado football plays Ohio State in the fourth game of the season next year. The tattoo five is currently suspended five games. Gene Smith will lower that suspension to three games so the tattoo five has one game to prepare for Big Ten play. Bank on it.
6. When I scouted Colorado basketball for a post waaay back when the Pac-12/16 was going down, I read about Alex Burks and thought 'Gee, I hope that dude goes pro after 2011.' Talk about what makes him such a good player, and if you think he'll return to Boulder next year.
I think Alec will test the NBA water, go to a few camps and see where he stands. If he is guaranteed a lottery spot, I am guessing he is gone. This offseason, Burks will have to work on his perimeter game. He isn't the purest shooter in the world and he has an unorthodox technique. He can sure get to the rim, though, and his length has to impress scouts. I also think you have to look at what Burks does on the glass and sharing the basketball. He has shown that he isn't just a scorer.
7. Who is the #1 player on defense for the Buffs that Cal fans should be worried about?
Cory Higgins has been great on the perimeter and Andre Roberson can hold his own in the middle. Higgins should have made the Big 12 All Defensive team.