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The undefeated at home Buffs meet the 8th ranked Wildcats on a collision course.
On Saturday night at the CU Event Center, an unstoppable force will meet an immovable object. The Colorado Buffaloes, who are a perfect 13-0 at home for the first time in program history, will face off against the Pac-12 leader and 8th ranked Arizona Wildcats.
Saturday’s game is Colorado’s single most important home game of the 2023-24 season. So far, the Buffs have yet to play a first quadrant game in Boulder this season and desperately need to improve their tournament portfolio, largely due to the fact that the Pac-12 is having a down year. After waiting four long months, the Buffs will finally get a crack at one of the nation’s best teams at the CU Event Center.
Arizona will enter today’s game third in NET, while the Buffs enter 31st in NET. This pivotal contest against the ‘Cats is CU’s first opportunity to snag a legit resume-booster on their home floor and show the national media that this team is legit. It’ll likely be their only Q1 home game this season too, barring how Utah does before they make the trip to The Keg in two weeks time, so they’ll need to make it count.
These two teams have met before this season, where the Buffs suffered a brutal 97-50 loss in Tucson. Colorado was without Tristan da Silva, Cody Williams and Julian Hammond during their road matchup with Arizona, but should be at full health for Saturday’s contest. Colorado has a golden opportunity to exact revenge on the Wildcats for running up the score on them in January and we very well could be on upset alert.
Despite the two team’s discrepancy in national ranking, Vegas currently has the Buffs as 1.5-point favorites against Arizona. Oddsmakers seemingly like the healthy Buffaloes at home against a gassed Arizona team, who just got taken to triple overtime by the Utah Utes on Thursday. The Buffs are the most rested they’ve been in quite some time too, as they’ve only played 2 games in the last 14 days.
The thought of the Buffs beating Arizona at home isn’t a crazy one either. Colorado has largely shot the ball well at home, while Arizona has had trouble taking care of business away from the McKale Center this season. The Wildcats have dropped road games to Stanford, Oregon State and Wazzu so far, and barely survived their trip to Utah just a few days ago.
Saturday’s game has all the makings of a statement win for Colorado, but that all depends on what Buffaloes team we see show up. If the Buffs come out of the gates swings, hitting their shots and taking care of the ball, things sound very promising. However, if we get another showing of the turnover prone and streaky shooting Buffaloes, things could get very ugly.
Even if Colorado shoots the lights out, they’ll still need to have an excellent defensive game to try to limit Arizona’s top-notch offense. Wildcats’ big man Oumar Ballo is a force to be reckoned with in the paint, while guards Kylan Boswell and Caleb Love can cook teams from deep if they’re not careful around the perimeter. The Buffs will need to put the clamps on if they want to come away with the win.
The Buffs desperately need this win too, as it’ll put them squarely into the tournament conversation with no strings attached. ESPN currently has Colorado as one of their first four out, largely due to the fact that the Buffs have found very little success in the first quadrant. If CU can pull off an upset win against the Wildcats, they’ll put that narrative to rest and likely punch their ticket to the dance.
Saturday’s game is as important as it gets. With a trip to the NCAA Tournament hanging in jeopardy, it feels as though the Buffs need to get it done and beat Arizona on their home floor. We’re finally about to see the home Buffaloes take on a real challenge, so buckle up and enjoy the ride.