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Colorado @ Cal: A Buff Q & A with The Ralphie Report

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California Bears Colorado Buffalo buffalo Colorado buffalo. Good morning, California! After a bench-emptying win against Utah, the Bears now look ahead to Saturday's matchup against Colorado. Earlier in the season, Cal flew up to their new Pac-12 brethren, only to fall short in a contentious game. What kind of team have the Buffs turned out to be? Will Andre Roberson declare for the draft? For the answer to our questions, we talked to Parker Baruh (@ParkerBaruh) of The Ralphie Report, SB Nation's Colorado Buffaloes community. Thanks to Parker for his lengthy responses, and Go Bears!

Colorado Head Coach Tad Boyle looks on during this weeks game against Stanford. Colorado would go on to grab the road victory.
Colorado Head Coach Tad Boyle looks on during this weeks game against Stanford. Colorado would go on to grab the road victory.

1. How comfortable do you feel about the Buffs' NCAA tournament chances? What record do they need to achieve in their remaining games to ensure a tournament berth?

1. After their win over Stanford, Buff fans should feel very comfortable about their NCAA Tournament chances. They already have done what they needed to on this road trip by picking up one win and guaranteeing a split. Although I don't believe Colorado will beat Cal, they will likely at least split at home next weekend. So, 1-2 over the final three games would ensure a tournament berth, but Colorado has a great chance to go 2-1 as well.

2. Colorado is only 4-6 on the road but 11-2 at home, is elevation responsible for the better home record or do the Buffs just play that much worse on the road?

2. Elevation is partly responsible for the 11-2 record at home, but so is the environment. The C-Unit is insane and will chant pretty much anything and say whatever they please to the opposing players to get into their heads. The Coors Event Center is almost always in full attendance and the noise never stops. On the road, the Buffs' early struggles were attributed to a combination of sloppy play out of the gate and ineffective defense. As of late, however, Colorado has played great on the road. They've been getting critical defensive stops down the stretch in games against Oregon and Oregon St. and have gotten great offensive performances out of their best players with Spencer Dinwiddie adding 24 points against the Beavers and Andre Roberson adding a career high 24 points against Stanford earlier this week. Colorado is always going to play better at home, but their improvement on the road as the conference season has progressed has been critical.

3. Is Andre Roberson going to improve his offense or jump shot or ball handling enough to leave early? (Please say yes)

3. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if Andre Roberson returned for his senior season or left for the NBA. There's reason for him to come back as he could still improve his post game and overall shooting, but he has made great strides this year already. Although he's shooting a career low effective field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, and overall field goal percentage, the low percentages are because his minutes are at a career high, and this is the biggest offensive role he's ever had. On the defensive side of the ball, he's better than ever leading the country in rebounding at 11.7 per game and he also is leading the Pac-12 in steals at 2.3 per game. If I had to choose now, I'd say that Roberson will come back for his senior year due to the fact that his draft stock isn't high enough as Draft Express projects him as a second rounder. And if he came back, he could leave a legacy as one of the best ever to play at the University of Colorado.

4. If there's a player that will really give Cal trouble, it'll be _______ because ________.

4. Xavier Johnson could give Cal the most trouble due to the fact that no one on Cal can really match up well with him. Johnson had 18 points and 12 rebounds in Colorado's 81-71 victory in late January and exposed the Bears. Johnson can shoot it from behind the arc, be effective on the fast break, and post players up. He's versatile and has continually improved as the season has gone on. Spencer Dinwiddie and Andre Roberson are Colorado's two best players, but if Xavier Johnson can exploit Cal once again, the Buffaloes might be able to pull out a victory.

Colorado Men's Basketball Highlights 2012 (via Derek Kessinger)

5. If you're worried about one player matching up against Cal, it'll be ___________ because _________.

5. Allen Crabbe. He's arguably the best player in the Pac-12 and can take over games with his incredible shot and release evident in Cal's win in Tucson over Arizona when he went for 31 points. He's been key along with Justin Cobbs in Cal's resurgence and obviously always a threat on the floor.

6. Who is the #1 player on offense for the Buffs?

6. Spencer Dinwiddie. He's shooting 52 percent on two pointers this year, 36 percent on three pointers and 81 percent from the free throw line. He's aggressive when he needs to be attacking opposing bigs and drawing fouls and also pushes the ball in transition very well. When the offense stagnates in the half court, it's been Dinwiddie who has been there to create.

7. Who is the #1 player on defense for the Buffs?

7. Andre Roberson. He's unquestionably the defensive player of the year in the Pac-12. As I mentioned above, Roberson leads the nation in rebounding and leads the Pac-12 in steals. His post defense is incredible as he always manages to front his man and is terrific guarding on the perimeter. He rarely over helps and his ability to recover back to his man is by far the best on the team. He has shut down Solomon Hill, Jason Washburn, and managed to control Allen Crabbe at times as well.

8. What does Colorado need to do to win this game?

8. Justin Cobbs and Allen Crabbe are going to score no matter what, but if Colorado can make Crabbe and Cobbs take a lot of shots to get their points, that'll be key for the Buffs to pull out the win. In Boulder last month, the duo scored 43 points, but needed 40 shots to get there.

9. What does Cal need to do to beat Colorado?

9. Cal needs to stop Spencer Dinwiddie from playing his game. They should force it out of his hands whenever possible and make someone else beat them. If they can do that, they should be able to win. It's been ridiculous how much Dinwiddie has been doing for the Buffaloes recently. Andre Roberson and Xavier Johnson are both going to be factors as well, but if Spencer Dinwiddie can't get to the foul line or initiate the fast break, it won't be good for Colorado.