March Madness is building; can you feel it?
Colorado, a state not known for its college basketball prowess, has three teams to be very proud of this year.
DU, CU and CSU are all competing at a high level, each of them has a chance to make the big dance.
The least noticed has been Denver University; but they've been dominant in the Western Athletic Conference. After their huge win Saturday over New Mexico State, the Pioneers are now 19-8 overall, and 14-2 in the WAC. They're sitting securely in the second position of the conference, behind No. 25 ranked Louisiana Tech. If La. Tech loses their next two games – with the finale against DU at Magness Arena – and the Pios win-out, Denver would win the WAC. And even if they don't they have a real opportunity to win the conference tournament. A win there and they'd be in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in the program's history. The Pioneers play with a team-first attack and find lots of open shots by sharing the ball.
In Boulder, the Buffaloes are roaming the hardwood like they own it with Tad Boyle as head coach. The Buffs are 19-9 overall this season, but at 9-7, are currently fifth in the Pac-12 following their loss to California Saturday. Colorado is boosted by the play of guard Spencer Dinwiddie and forward Andre Roberson. Dinwiddie's scoring (15.4 PPG) leads the team and Roberson's 11.4 rebounds per are tops for CU; when both are on, they're tough to beat. With two games left, including their next one against No. 24 Oregon, the Buffs can help their already impressive tournament resume. As of now, they're No. 22 in RPI and most “bracketologists” have them in the tourney as of now.
Of course, we saved the best for last. Colorado State is hands-down the top college basketball team in the Centennial State this season, and even though they've lost 3-4 games, they're 22-7 overall. The Rams rebound really well – better than any other team in the nation to be exact – and bigmen Colton Iverson and Pierce Hornung are the feisty reasons why. They fight for loose basketballs, giving up their bodies like few others will. What makes Colorado State the most deadly of all the Colorado teams is that they have five senior starters, and experience is crucial.
The Rams are basically a lock to make the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year – a first in two decades – and the experience of making it last season will hopefully pay off this time around. For CU, it's a similar situation, except they even won a game in last year's March Madness. They'll have to win a few more games before they are guaranteed to get in, though, and some of those can come in the Pac-12 tourney.
In Fort Collins – with a multitude of school records set this year – it's been arguably the best basketball team Colorado State has ever seen, while CU continues to improve and DU is quietly kicking ass.
We don't pay much attention to college ball around these parts – where the Broncos reign supreme – but it turns out we need to tune in because some of the best basketball in the country is being played in our back yard.