Earlier this season, we declared this year's CU Buffs to be the school's best since Chauncey Billups's glory days after defeating Missouri and Kansas State in quick succession.
But will the Buffs have to knock off K-State for a third time this season in order to take part in a certain Big Dance that gets underway this month? Probably so.
First things first: Thanks in large part to nineteen points from Marcus Relphorde, the Buffs handled Nebraska 67-57 this weekend to score the fifth spot in the Big 12 tourney. That means a rematch with Iowa State, who beat CU mere days ago.
Had the Buffs won that game, their March Madness status wouldn't be nearly as up-in-the-air as it is now -- so the squad will have plenty of incentive to hand it to the Cyclones on Wednesday. If they do so, however, they'll match up against Kansas State, which has a first-round bye. And that old cliché about the difficulty of beating the same team three times in a season just happens to be true.
But if the Wildcats emerge victorious, is CU doomed? Even B.G. Brooks, the former Rocky Mountain News scribe who's now the official CU blogger, seems to be leaning in that direction. He writes:
If Saturday night's victory kept the Buffs perched on the NCAA bubble, the defeat probably swept the Huskers (19-11, 7-9) off of it. But CU's foothold is tenuous; the Buffs, whose last NCAA bid came in 2003, likely will have to win a pair of games in KC to be among the 68 teams selected for the "Big Dance."
ESPN bracketologist Joe Lunardi concurs. His current bracket has CU and Boston College battling for one of the last slots, and he sees Colorado getting a pass if they can't top Kansas State, in part because of the squad's continuing struggles on the road. And the road is what the tournament is all about.
Below, find two videos -- the first brimming with highlights from the Nebraska win, the second featuring Lunardi rating CU and other bubblers:
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