The BYU basketball team welcomes the Colorado Buffaloes tonight to the Marriott Center (8pm MST, ESPN2). As Vanquish the Foe’s Steve Pierce outlined yesterday, BYU is facing as close to a must-win as you can in the month of December. With Colorado coming off an upset win over 13th ranked Xavier, BYU has the chance to pick up a sorely needed quality win in non-conference play.
Here are a few things to know about the Buffs before tonight’s clash in Provo:
Best wins: Xavier, Texas
Losses: Notre Dame, Colorado State
PPG: 74.9; Points allowed: 64.7
Leading Scorer: Derrick White: 15.0 ppg
What Colorado does well:
Defend: Colorado is a long, athletic team. They are top-25 nationally in both field goal percentage defense and three-point defense. BYU is in the bottom 20 nationally in three-point percentage, so tonight would be a tall order to break out of their three point funk. Eric Mika will no doubt be Colorado’s number one focus, so Haws, Emery, and company would be well served to hit down outside shots and alleviate some of the pressure that Mika will face.
Rebound: BYU and Colorado are two of the better rebounding teams in the nation; both rank top-40 nationally in terms of rebound margin. Colorado forces a lot of missed shots, and doesn’t allow many second chance points off those shots. Colorado gets rebounds from both its front and backcourt, so guys like LJ Rose will need to continue to rebound so Colorado doesn’t own the glass.
Despite Colorado’s more impressive resume thus far, Vegas likes the Cougars to pull out the win; as of this publication, BYU is favored by 4.5 points. If BYU wants a realistic chance at securing an at-large bid in March, the Cougars REALLY need this win tonight. Illinois, Saint Mary’s, and Gonzaga provide the only other opportunities to provide marquee wins. This will be the second true road game Colorado has played up to this point; the other one was against fellow WCC team Portland, which isn’t exactly a raucous place to play. If BYU can get this game into the 80’s and hit a few more outside shots to take some pressure off Eric Mika and the rest of the frontcourt, BYU should be in good shape to pick up a much needed quality win.