NCAA Tournament 2012: Colorado Buffaloes vs. Baylor Bears Preview

Max RogersCorrespondent IMarch 16, 2012

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - MARCH 15: Austin Dufault #33, Spencer Dinwiddie #25 and Andre Roberson #21 of the Colorado Buffaloes communicate during the second half against the UNLV Rebels during the second round of the 2012 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at The Pit on March 15, 2012 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Colorado’s first NCAA tournament game since 2003 was what March Madness is all about.  An unranked opponent facing the regular-season No. 23 AP ranked team and putting them away.

No. 11 seed Colorado beat No. 6 seed UNLV 68-64 in Thursday’s second-round game. After Cal's loss to South Florida, Colorado is the only remaining Pac-12 team in this year's March Madness. The Buffaloes will next face No. 3 seed Baylor in the South region on Saturday (8:40 p.m. Eastern).

Colorado, now 24-11, earned the Pac-12’s automatic bid by winning the 2012 Pac-12 tournament title. The Buffaloes entered the Pac-12 tournament as a No. 6 seed.

Colorado’s win over UNLV marked their fifth straight, with the previous four all being in the Pac-12 tournament. 

The 2012 NCAA tournament is the Buffaloes' 11th tournament appearance, and their win over UNLV extends their win-loss record in the event to 10-12.

Colorado’s next opponent, the No. 3 seed Baylor Bears, had to give everything they had in their Thursday second-round game against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. Baylor beat the Jackrabbits 68-60. South Dakota State notably beat Washington, another member of the Pac-12, earlier in the season.

Baylor's performance has been somewhat mixed this year. Playing in the Big 12, the Bears played eight games against AP Top 25 teams this season. In those games Baylor had a win-loss record of 3-5, most notably beating then-No. 3 Kansas in the Big 12 tournament before losing to then-No. 5 Missouri. Baylor had previously lost twice to both Kansas and Missouri in the regular season.

Colorado did not have any games in the regular season against AP Top 25 teams and finished the regular season tied for fifth with UCLA in the Pac-12. The Buffaloes' match against AP ranked No. 9 Baylor will be their second against a ranked team in both the tournament and this season.

Colorado has arguably one of the best defenses in the Pac-12. UNLV shot only 32.4 percent in the game against the Buffaloes. Colorado had four players score in the double digits of that game, lead by freshman guard Askia Booker‘s 16 points.

Askia Booker currently averages 8.9 points per game. Four Colorado players average above 10-points per game, including: Carlon Brown (12.6 ppg), Andre Roberson (11.6 ppg), Austin Dufault (11 ppg), Spencer Dinwiddie (10.2 ppg). 

Prior to the 2012 NCAA tournament Colorado was averaging 67.6 points per game while keeping their opponents to 62.5 points per game.

Don’t expect the Buffaloes to be easily pushed aside by the Bears, as Colorado is quickly quieting its doubters. The key to Colorado beating the Bears, and advancing to the Sweet 16, will be the Buffaloes maintaining their high-pressured defense.  

The Buffaloes have not advanced to the Sweet 16 ever since the modern configuration and expansion of the NCAA tournament. Colorado now matches their furthest advance in the modern era of the NCAA tournament by making it to the round of 32. The last time the Buffaloes accomplished that feat was in 1997.