Colorado might have clinched its spot in the tourney with win over Arizona

Josh Scott, left, had his best game of the season on Wednesday night. (USATSI)

Some are already saying this is the win that makes Colorado a lock for this year’s NCAA Tournament.

I won’t go that far, but it is certainly a huge victory for the 20-9 Buffaloes, who are trying to go dancing for the fourth time in six years under Tad Boyle. Wednesday night’s 75-72 win over No. 9 Arizona was therapeutic for a Colorado team that, almost a year ago to the day, fell at home to Arizona 82-54.

Give it up for senior power forward Josh Scott, who had a season-high 26 points, plus nine rebounds and three blocks. He was so good and will be an NBA pick in June. The Buffs are now 9-7 in the league. Arizona lost its tie with Oregon atop the Pac-12 with this loss. The 22-6 Wildcats are still vying to earn a No. 2 seed, but that will now likely require winning out. Ryan Anderson led the Cats with 19 points.

Colorado has absolutely zipped under the radar this season, and there’s easy reason for that. The nonconference schedule didn’t offer up a lot of nationally televised games — plus the Buffaloes didn’t schedule any good opponents outside of Iowa State on opening night and BYU at home on Dec. 12. Since Pac-12 began, Colorado has been good enough but lacked consistency to bring it to the discussion nationally.

This win changes some of that, though. Beating Arizona is a morale-changer for any Pac-12 team. My guess is Colorado needs just one more win to be at lock status for the tournament. Here’s how the schedule sets up. The Buffaloes will play Arizona State on Sunday. Win that and Boyle’s team can almost certainly lose its finale at Utah on March 5 and the Pac-12 tourney opener and still get into the Dance.

To me, this Colorado team has 8/9 seed written all over it, though. And that’s a big step up from last season.


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