This evening, the Arizona Wildcats (9-4) will finally open their conference schedule with a home matchup against the Colorado Buffaloes (9-3). The Wildcats are currently favored, and we caught up with Jack Barsch of Ralphie Report to get the lowdown on CU.
Here’s our Q&A.
What’s the feeling around Boulder with the team entering conference play?
Well, the feeling was pretty positive until a disastrous trip to Hawaii. Before the Diamond Head Classic, the Buffs has one loss, a close road contest against a tough San Diego team. With how dreadful the Pac-12 is, the expectation was a top 5 conference finish.
Then CU has a disastrous loss to Indiana State in Hawaii and followed it up with an even worse loss to Hawaii. The team was lost on offense and listless on defense. So, it’s pretty negative right now.
Who’s the biggest impact player for the Buffs?
Much like last year, McKinley Wright is the biggest deal on the Buffs. He is the engine that makes everything go. The difference is that Tyler Bey is giving him a run for his money. He has been sublime on defense and surprisingly efficient around the rim on offense. With Dallas Walton out for the year and Lucas Siewert an offensive powerhouse and a defensive obstacle, Bey is often the intimidator in the middle.
However, this is not complicated. This team will be McKinleys for as long as he’s here.
What do Colorado fans think of Arizona, especially vis-a-vis Miller and Boyle’s touchy relationship?
It’s no secret that CU and it’s fans set their collective sights on Arizona after a win in Tucson was stolen from them by the refs. Whether or not the rivalry feeling is reciprocated does not matter to the fans, it just helps to have some hate to grab onto in the Pac-12 after leaving long standing animosity from the Big 8 and 12 behind.
What scares you about playing Arizona in Tucson?
Well, besides the inevitable buzz saw of an Arizona basketball team playing at home during conference play, it’s probably the fact that any loss in the Pac this year will not be received well nationally. A single misstep for either team will likely push them off the bubble.
What’s your prediction for the game?
Pain. CU is swimming right now and the confidence is not high. Tad Boyle always seems to give Sean Miller a good game (except for the times he doesn’t), so it might be close, but I don’t expect the Buffs to bounce back so well.