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Cal MBB vs. Colorado 2014: An 871-word Q & A with The Ralphie Report

Cal closes the 2013-2014 regular season with a home visit from the Colorado Buffaloes. Win, and the Bears greatly improve their NCAA hopes. Lose, and the Bears are poised to possibly fall off the bubble. Colorado has dealt with struggles of its own, losing Spencer Dinwiddie to injury earlier this season. Parker Baruh of The Ralphie Report, SBNation's Colorado community, weighs in in our last regular season Q & A.

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

1. Cal hasn't seen Colorado this year. What are the tenets to Tad Boyle's offense? How does the team play defense?

The tenets to Tad Boyle's offense are to get out in transition and run as much as possible. When Colorado can't get points in transition, they struggle and stagnate in the half-court. Part of this is because of the fact that they only have one consistent option on offense: Josh Scott. When he gets the ball in the post, the Buffs tend to score. Aside from that, Askia Booker has been tremendous since the Spencer Dinwiddie injury getting inside the lane and scoring, but when he struggles or Colorado can't get it into the post, the offense doesn't produce. On defense, they play man-to-man and rely on quick and strong closeouts to force offensive players into the help defense.

2. Colorado was picked to finish 3rd (despite the loss of all around beast Andre Roberson) and is currently tied for 4th in spite of losing Spencer Dinwiddie to that unfortunate knee injury. How has the season gone relative to the fanbase's expectations?

Prior to the Dinwiddie injury, Colorado had lived up to expectations. They were a Top 15 team and had a good chance to finish second in the Pac-12. After the injury, the Buffs have met expectations as well. They beat the teams they were supposed to on the road and at home and picked up a necessary road win when they beat Stanford on Wednesday. The expectations after the Dinwiddie injury were to make the NCAA Tournament and they have a very good chance of doing that.

3. Colorado has been much stronger at home than on the road. What has caused this and how do you see Colorado performing on this important road trip?

Colorado just plays better at home like all teams. They rely on their student section which packed every home game before the Dinwiddie injury. Despite getting subpar attendance after that, the fans starting showing up again for the games against the Arizona schools and helped Colorado get a win over Arizona St. As for the road trip, they've already taken down Stanford. I don't think a sweep is in the cards, but a split has already been guaranteed, which is what the Buffs needed.

4. Who has been Colorado's offensive MVP this year? How has the team responded to replace Dinwiddie's production?

From a straight statistical perspective, Josh Scott has been the offensive MVP. He has the highest offensive rating on the team at 125.9 and is the team's leading scorer at 14.7 points per game and leading rebounder with 8.7 per game. But without Askia Booker's transformation, this team would've gone into a freefall. Booker, who was mostly thought of as a good scorer that lacked other offensive skills showed that wasn't the case after Dinwiddie's injury. His assist numbers skyrocketed. Before the Dinwiddie injury, he only had six or more assists in a game once. Since the injury, he's had games of six or more assists six times and also had two games with five assists and is averaging 3.5 assists per game this year. Although it doesn't seem like a lot, last year he averaged 2.2 per game and the year prior he averaged 1.4. So, Askia Booker is the offensive MVP of this team.

12/07/2013 Kansas vs Colorado Men's Basketball Highlights (via XOSSports)

5. Who has been Colorado's defensive MVP this year?

Colorado plays good team defense, but I don't think there is a clear defensive MVP for this team with Spencer Dinwiddie out.

6. Who's one "under the radar" player poised to break out if Cal's not careful?

If Cal's not careful, Xavier Talton is an "under the radar" player that could break out. He has a knack for hitting big shots when there's little time left on the shot clock and likes to sag to the corner for three and usually is very effective from there.

7. Complete this sentence: The key to Colorado winning the game is ____________ while preventing Cal from _______________.

The key to Colorado winning the game is playing effective defense and winning the rebounding battle while preventing from Cal from hitting threes.

8. Colorado's currently slated as a #10 seed in Joe Lundardi's latest bracket. What do they have to do to remain in the field?

Colorado should be safely in the field after beating Stanford on Wednesday night.

9. Looking forward, the Buffaloes only have two seniors on the roster (Mills and Nelson) who aren't major contributors. What's the outlook for next year? How does the recruiting pipeline look?

The outlook for next year is promising. As far as incoming recruits go, the Buffs got a commitment from Dominique Collier, who is the ESPN 100, to be a potential point guard replacement for Spencer Dinwiddie. Tory Miller, a 6-foot-8 forward is also committed, but likely won't have much of an impact next year. The bottom line is the outlook for next year is excellent with Xavier Johnson, Askia Booker and Josh Scott returning. Other contributors like Xavier Talton, Wesley Gordon, Jaron Hopkins and Dustin Thomas are set to come back as well. The only question mark is Spencer Dinwiddie. If he returns, the Buffs could be a national championship contender.