Upon reading this headline, the majority of you might think that I’m crazy (and after tonight, that very well may hold some weight). Truth be told, this is either going to be a David triumphs Goliath or a blowout. However, in looking at the collegiate schedule tonight, the matchup of Kansas at Colorado is an intriguing one (9 p.m. EST) – and it will all depend on how the Buffs respond to the first 12 minutes. Both Pitt/West Virginia and Mississippi State/Vanderbilt will also be great to watch, but don’t sleep on the run in Boulder this evening.
Record-wise, the Buffs aren’t even within a mile of the Jayhawks. CU is currently second-to-last in the Big 12 at 2-5 and is 11-10 overall; compared with Kansas’ record of 6-0 and 20-1 respectively. In my estimation, the Buffaloes have been one of the most confusing teams in not only its league, but also nationally among power conferences. Against the better teams that Colorado has faced this season – including Gonzaga, Arizona, Texas and Kansas State – the Buffs have only lost one contest by double digits (Texas).
The major problem with Jeff Bzdelik’s team (Yeah, the same former-Nuggets’ Bzdelik) this season has been finishing games and playing with the same consistency no matter the opponent. At the Maui Tournament in November, CU gave eventual champion Gonzaga a big scare (losing 76-72 in the closing seconds) and pushed Arizona to overtime. Once back on campus, they have crushed the University of San Francisco (who I witnessed upsetting the ‘Zags in SF this past weekend) and beat then 24th-ranked Baylor in Boulder. In fact, they have only lost once at home all season and that was to twelfth-ranked Kansas State by six points, 87-81. On the flip, they have been walloped by both Tulsa and rival Colorado State on the road.
Colorado is led by one of the biggest sleepers and best players in the conference, junior Cory Higgins, who is averaging 18.3 points and 3.5 boards on the year. Freshman guard Alec Burks, who NBADraft.net has going fourth overall in its 2011 mock draft, had also been averaging over 16 and four on the year; unfortunately he will be unavailable for tonight’s game with a sprained knee that he suffered two minutes into the Buffs 64-63 loss at Iowa State on Saturday. This has to be the biggest worry for the Buffaloes, considering Colorado will need every shooter in its arsenal ready for when the Jayhawks heat up in the paint. Even without Burks, Colorado is still a scrappy team at home and one that Kansas will have to take seriously.
Currently back crowding the number one spot in the country, Kansas is playing great basketball this season. Xavier Henry and Marcus Morris are beasts – not to mention Cole Aldrich is far better than I anticipated coming into this season – while Sherron Collins continues to do what he does best and win. They rested atop that number one line through fourteen games until visiting Tennessee, who won despite missing four of their best players to team violations. In Colorado, they face a semi-depleted team who is hungry for a win. The Coors Events Center will be rocking with a good crowd and expect for Higgins to have a big game. What ultimately needs to happen for Colorado to have a legitimate shot at beating the best team in the land, is for a couple of its unknowns to step up and contribute. Nate Tomlinson, Austin Dufault and Levi Knutson need to play inspired ball to give Colorado a chance. If Bzdelik and crew can pull off this upset, it will not only become their second marquee win on the year (Baylor) but it will help re-establish a program that hasn’t really seen much success since Chauncey Billups was running the show in Boulder.
What do you think? Can Colorado pull off the upset?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @jensenjack.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DIMEMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.