Four Thoughts From the Pac-12 FinalPosted by bmulvihill on March 10th, 2012
Brendon Mulvihill is an RTC correspondent. He filed this report after Saturday’s final round at the Pac-12 Tournament.
The Colorado Buffaloes won the Pac-12 Tournament in their first year as a member of the conference. Driven by strong inside play, senior leaders, a 2011 snub, and 50 of their most rabid fans, the Buffaloes are making an unlikely appearance in the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
1. Strong inside play and missed free throws – Prior to the game, the key match-ups were going to be in the paint. Arizona’s Solomon Hill, Jesse Perry, and Angelo Chol versus Colorado’s Andre Roberson, Austin Dufault, and Shane Harris-Trunks. The Buffs ended up dominating the glass with a 37-29 rebounding margin and 12-10 second chance point margin. The long arms of Roberson proved to be the difference on the glass. Additionally, Arizona’s inability to make free throws cost them the game. The Wildcats were 10-18 from the free throw line. With a tournament bid on the line, free throws are too important to miss in these tight games.
2. 2011 Bubble Motivation – After going 21-13 and 8-8 in the Big 12 in 2011, the Buffaloes sat squarely on the bubble. The Tournament selection committee did not end up giving them a bid and it has stuck with the team all season long. At the post-game press conference, coach Tad Boyle said he sent a text at 1:30AM to six of the players on that team last season and told them today’s game was for them. Boyle welled up with tears when asked what this win meant to him relative to the emotions he and his team went through last year. This win meant more to the Buffs than most of us could have imagined.
3. Carlon Brown – When Colorado needed a big play, they went right to Brown. And he delivered. He threw down two dunks in the last two days that have simply rocked the entire building. Brown is a big guard that could give smaller guards a problem, if the right match-up should arise for the Buffs. He’s not overly tall but he is bulkier than most, which allows him to post-up thinner guys. Look for who he is matched up against in the Big Dance.
4. Colorado will still have a tough time in the NCAA Tournament – While it’s easy to get caught up in the hoopla after a team’s big conference tournament win, it’s important to put things into the proper perspective. The Buffs did what they had to do to win, but they certainly didn’t shoot the lights out. And it follows that they will probably have a pretty low seed in the tournament and facing a good opponent. Evaluate the match-up as you would any game, do not get caught up in the excitement when evaluating the Buffs.