Top 5 This Week

Related Posts

CU Buffs vs. Marquette: Three keys heading into NCAA Tournament matchup

Several factors make the Buffs a scary 10 seed for the big boys still dancing. They’ve got NBA talent in at least three, if not more, spots. They (usually) don’t beat themselves. They’ve got an amazing point guard. They’ve got an assured (and fun) finisher in the paint. They’ve got wings with range who prefer the smart play to the flashy one. They can light it up from three when they have to (although coach Tad Boyle doesn’t usually want to). They can play, as they’ve proven in the past few days alone, whatever style of game you want. When Boise State wanted to wrestle in the mud, the Buffs got dirty. When Florida wanted to turn Gainbridge Fieldhouse into a track meet, the Buffs put on their running shoes.

Marquette ticks a lot of the same boxes, mind you, especially with All-American point guard Tyler Kolek apparently recovered from an oblique injury that kept him out of the Big East tournament. The Eagles (26-9) are some experts’ Final Four sleeper, and the show that Kolek (18 points, 11 assists) and guard Kam Jones (28 points) put on against Western Kentucky on Friday didn’t raise many new red flags. Sorry, Ralphie. But here are three things that could help CU upset the 2 seed in the South:

Hang on to the rock: The Buffs are 15-10 when committing as many or more turnovers than their foes. They’re 11-0 when the other guys give it away more. Marquette ranks 30th in the country in steals per game (8.6) while the Buffs rank (checks notes) 249th in turnovers per offensive possession (18.1% ratio). That could prove hairy on this stage, kids. Unlike the Gators, the Eagles won’t look to turn a takeaway into the quickest shot possible, every time down the floor. Marquette’s going to pick its spots. And probably slow it down and strangle you with zero-point possessions late, if that’s what gets Shaka Smart over the line.

Get to the line (reprise): No, it doesn’t make for the most exciting television. But CU’s secret weapon is the charity stripe. Why? For one thing, it’s a chance for the Buffs to pick up some points that don’t take any time off the clock. For another, Boyle’s guys are really, really good once they reach the bonus. CU ranks just 95th nationally in free-throw rate per shot, but the Buffs make hay once they’re there, as the 10th-best team in the nation in free-throw percentage (78.4). CU is 17-1 this season when it picks up more makes from the stripe than its opponents.

Be aggressive: The Eagles have given up 80 points or more only five times all season, posting a 3-2 mark in those tilts. The Buffs, conversely, have hit on 80 or more 17 times, winning 16 of those contests along the way. If there’s a chance to run, take it. CU is 25-4 when it outshoots the opposition. Release that inner Florida Gator, baby!

Want more sports news? Sign up for the Sports Omelette to get all our analysis on Denver’s teams.

Popular Articles