When you’re Colorado basketball, piling up steady and solid wins isn’t good enough to raise eyebrows nationally. The Buffaloes need to claim a signature victory against a well-known opponent. That chance arrives on Saturday, when No. 6 Kansas ventures into Boulder, Colo.
You'd best believe the Jayhawks have been in the back of the Buffaloes' collective minds all offseason. That’s partly because of the 90-54 beatdown Kansas put on Colorado last season at Allen Fieldhouse. But it’s more about what a win could do for the Buffs this season.
The need for Colorado to play well in this game was only magnified after its season-opening loss to then-No. 25 Baylor in one of those games it would love to have back. The Buffs trailed the entire game, shot just 33 percent and couldn’t pull closer than two possessions in the second half. Whatever traction the Buffs had nationally quickly eroded and bounced them to the periphery.
Now’s their chance to gain it back.
Colorado rides an eight-game winning streak into its meeting with Kansas. That streak was punctuated with a quality win over Harvard.
CU coach Tad Boyle also navigated his team through back-to-back true road games in wins over Air Force and rival Colorado State. Boyle scheduled as tough a six-game nonconference stretch as there is in the country.
The Buffaloes completed the first three unscathed, but the Jayhawks represent a move up in competition level for the next three games. After Kansas, the Buffaloes face Elon and conclude arguably the most difficult portion of their schedule against No. 9 Oklahoma State.
The most notable improvement Colorado has made since its season opener has come defensively. The Buffs rank third in the Pac-12 in scoring defense, allowing just 65.2 points per game. They’re also third in rebounding margin, collecting an average of 11.1 more boards than their opponents.
Colorado is as balanced as it gets, with four players averaging double figures. Guard Spencer Dinwiddie leads the team with 13.8 points per game, which is just a shade less than his 15.3 average a season ago. If the Buffs are to pull off an upset, they’ll likely need Dinwiddie and backcourt mate Askia Booker to play strong.