I mentioned in our preliminary conference rankings that Colorado was the worst team – last night, that hypothesis was confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt. Missouri isn't a bad team – despite their inability to beat the smurfs from Nebraska – but 45 points is a complete disgrace. Like most teams, Colorado is a lot better in Boulder than anywhere else – but even there they haven't been good. In fact, their best performance of the year might have been their 14 point loss out in Palo Alto to an average Stanford team. Their many other losses include: roadies at SMU and last night in Columbia, & on a neutral Hawaii court to Buffalo and Vermont (25 points). Even at home, they've been beaten by Montana State and TCU. Their best win is a toss-up between Harvard, Colorado State and Coppin State. This season has not been kind to Jeff Bzdelik and his young Buffs.
Basically, if you slow down Cory Higgins you've got the game won. And chances are you don't even have to do that – though they had played pretty good defense until last night. For the year, Higgins (6'5") is scoring just shy of 18 points and grabbing 6 rebounds per game – both team bests by a wide margin. Higgins' specialty is getting into the paint, but he can hit from deep as well (38%), though he hasn't really shown the ability to hit more than 1 or 2 per game. In addition, though he doesn't lead the team in assists, he really is their best creator because of the respect he is given by opposing teams.
Aside from Higgins, they've got decent scoring options in Thorne (12), Dufault (9) and even Tomlinson (9). At 6'2", Thorne is sadly their fourth leading rebounder (3.5) and really he's just a guy that's going to hit an open three or two and probably mix it up just enough inside to get a couple buckets. Dufault is their "big man" – at a massive 6'8" 210 pounds – and he leverages that size into nearly 10 points and just shy of four boards per outing. The other big the like to play is Casey Crawford (6'9" 235), who those in the area may remember from his days at Blue Valley North not too long ago. He was pretty much a douche then, still was when he tried to play at Wake Forest, and nothing has really changed as he still only parlays that body size into a big who likes to face the basket & shoot threes with relative success. And then you have their young Australian PG, Nate Tomlinson. He's semi-quick, a decent distributor (3.6/gm. with no one to distribute to) and can score it a little bit (9/game). Others you'll likely see are Jackson-Wilson, Knutson and Eckloff. J-W is a solid wing that is probably their best rebounder given his limited minutes – but he's incredibly raw and can't do much offensively. Knutson and Eckloff are 6'9" – that's about it.
Basically, the Buffaloes are going to try and guard you. For most of the season, they've been able to do that with decent effectiveness (last night aside). Bzdelik is going to switch up his defenses, pressure the ball and make you work for points. But if you at least make a concerted effort at the defensive end, there's a decent chance they won't get to sixty. I anticipate they'll be losing a lot of games in the vicinity of 75-55…
Up next: Baylor