The Pac-12’s flag-bearer is still bearing the league’s flag.
Despite committing 23 turnovers against a tough press from No. 6 UNLV, No. 11 Colorado still managed to beat the Rebels 68-64. Colorado was up 53-33 with 12 minutes left, but the Rebs went on a 22-4 run to get within two points, missing a pair of 3-pointers on the ensuing possession that would have tied the game.
The game carried much the same trajectory as the Pac-12 title game, when Colorado scored just three points over the final eight minutes but survived to beat Arizona 53-50.
It also had the same outcome, with Colorado’s season improbably continuing. The Buffaloes finished sixth in the Pac-12. They had to beat Utah, Oregon, Cal and Arizona on consecutive days just for the right to play in the tournament, so why not keep the ride going?
Colorado has become an interesting story line. At this point, they are a cinderella. The Pac-12 was a mid-major conference this season in everything but name. Colorado finished in the middle of that league. They aren’t supposed to still be playing. There is a reason that Central Florida and Old Dominion and Northern Iowa have all either started their offseason or bided their time while playing in one of the off-the-radar tournaments.
Making the run all the more impressive is the fact that Colorado wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near this good this season. They went 8-8 in the Big 12 last season, missed the NCAA tournament and lost their two best players to the NBA. They were picked to finish tenth in the league. Behind Arizona State. That should tell you something.
Colorado’s next opponent is No. 3 Baylor, who was a conference foe for the former Big 12 member as recently as last season. There will be plenty of familiarity between the two schools as they compete for the right to play in the Sweet 16.
Did anyone think we would be saying that about the Buffs this season?