Still struggling during a six-game losing streak, the Arizona Wildcats finish this week’s road trip with a visit to Boulder to face the Colorado Buffaloes. Both teams are headed in opposite directions, with CU on a surprising four-game winning streak to counter Arizona’s streak.
To see whether the trends would continue or be broken, we talked to Jack Barsch of Ralphie Report.
Here’s our Q&A.
Colorado has managed to finally piece together some wins. What’s changed recently?
A few things have contributed to this winning stretch. One, the rotation has shortened, against Boyle’s wishes. Due to a combination of injury and academics, the Buffs have gone to 8 or 9 players, which has given each of them a chance to build better chemistry and ride their hot streaks.
Two, the team has started to play good team defense. Against some of the better rebounding teams in the conference (and the country), Colorado has team rebounded and limited second chance opportunities.
The third component is McKinley Wright. Apparently, his shoulder injury has unlocked his old self, and he is now taking over games like he did last year. He is the Buffs’ closer, and he is going all the way to the rim and creating contact. He will challenge anyone at the hoop.
Who’s a player to watch for Colorado?
Everyone knows about McKinley, but Tyler Bey has really come on strong. He always had the freaky length and athleticism, but now he’s started to play more physical and finish around the rim. Bey, according to basketball reference, has the highest defensive rebounding percentage in the country, and grabbed a ridiculous 52% of available DRBs when he was on the court against ASU. He is playing mean and I love it.
What’s CU’s biggest strength? What about their biggest weakness?
Like every other Tad Boyle team, their strength is rebounding first and defense second. They will limit second chance opportunities and force Arizona to take contested shots.
The Buffs, on the offensive side, cannot shoot the ball consistently. They are shooting a little over 30% from three in conference play, and it’s a complete crapshoot every night to see who can make shots.
Based on what you’ve seen, how much of an advantage does Boulder’s elevation give the Buffs?
Well, evidence suggests that it’s a huge advantage, but it’s hard to notice outright. There isn’t a point in the game that every opposing team puts their hands on their knees or stops running. I do think that opposing coaches have to go a little deeper into their rotation and they may pull their starters earlier than they would otherwise.
I do think Sean Miller sweats through his shirt a little faster.
What’s your score prediction?
I think the CU -5.5 line that Vegas has is a little generous. I’ll take CU in a close one.