Colorado vs. Oklahoma State: Position-by-Position Breakdown of Both Teams
Buried deep in the college basketball Saturday schedule is a matchup between two ranked teams at the MGM Grand Showcase in Las Vegas.
The No. 7 Oklahoma State Cowboys are the headliners in this game as they will enter Nevada with a 10-1 record and one of the best players in the nation in Marcus Smart.
Tad Boyle's No. 20 Colorado Buffaloes are also 10-1 and they made a splash of their own on December 7 when they defeated Kansas on an Askia Booker buzzer-beater.
Both teams have caused matchup problems for their opponents so far in nonconference play, but how do the two sides match up against either?
Continue reading for a position-by-position breakdown of Saturday's clash in Las Vegas.
Matchup: Jaron Hopkins and Askia Booker (COLO) vs. Markel Brown and Brian Williams (OKST)
Booker is known the most this season for his game-winner against Kansas, but he can do so much more for the Buffaloes.
The junior guard is not afraid to take a shot as he has attempted a team-high 123 shots with a 38.2 percent success rate.
Jaron Hopkins has adjusted to his first season in college well as he has made four starts and averaged 16.8 minutes per game.
The freshman is still coming into his own and could face some difficulties against the experienced guards of Oklahoma State.
Markel Brown is the main distributor for the Oklahoma State offense that features star shooters like Smart and Le'Bryan Nash.
Brown averages just over three assists per game, and he is also the second-leading scorer for the Cowboys with 15.7 points per game.
Brian Williams is your typical college glue guy, and although he may not put up numbers like Brown does, he has the skill to stick any player on defense and provide some valuable leadership.
Advantage: Oklahoma State
Brown and Williams are a great pair of guards who have more experience than the Colorado pair listed above, and that should power them past the Buffaloes at the guard position.
Matchup: Spencer Dinwiddie (COLO) vs. Marcus Smart (OKST)
The true star of the Colorado team is Spencer Dinwiddie, who leads the Buffaloes in scoring with 15.5 points per game.
In six of his team's 11 games this season, Dinwiddie has been the leading scorer with his season high coming against rival Colorado State on December 3, a game where he scored 28.
For the Buffaloes to have any chance of beating their old Big 12 foe, the junior will need to have an excellent showing in Pac-12 country.
Everyone knows about the talent Smart brings to the court, and he has shown early in his sophomore season that he is not going through a slump in his second collegiate campaign.
With 18 points per game and a 46.3 field-goal shooting percentage, Smart is a threat from all angles of the court.
Advantage: Oklahoma State
The Cowboys have a very slight advantage in this matchup as they possess an offensive weapon in Smart. However, do not underestimate the skill set of Dinwiddie, who will challenge for Pac-12 Player of the Year honors.
Matchup: Josh Scott and Xavier Johnson (COLO) vs. Michael Cobbins and Le'Bryan Nash (OKST)
The battle in the paint on Saturday night should be a fun one between Josh Scott and Michael Cobbins.
Scott averages 12.4 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, and he will have a two-inch height advantage on Cobbins.
Xavier Johnson presents a problem for any opponent at power forward because of his athleticism.
The 6'7" sophomore has thrived in the power forward role, and he has been the leading rebounder for the Buffaloes in the past two games.
Nash is also a versatile player, but he is known more for his scoring than his defensive prowess.
He will certainly test Johnson, but defense has been the strength of the Buffaloes forward all season.
Cobbins will have his hands full with Scott, and he will have to stay out of foul trouble to be an effective big man for the Cowboys.
Scott and Johnson have been playing too well of late to pick against them in this matchup. If Colorado wins, expect the frontcourt duo to one of the main reasons why.
Colorado will get a boost on Saturday with the return of Wesley Gordon as per Brian Howell of the Boulder Daily Camera and buffzone.com.
Whether or not Gordon starts is a question that is yet to be answered, but he will surely provide production off the bench if Hopkins is handed the start once again.
The Buffaloes also have four other key contributors who come off the bench led by Dustin Thomas and Xavier Felton.
Oklahoma State does not go as deep as its Saturday opponent, but it does have plenty of quality coming off the pine.
Phil Forte averages over 11 points per game, and he can spell any of the guards at any time of the game.
Kamari Murphy and Stevie Clark are also strong options for coach Travis Ford to use, but they only have Murphy to provide height in place of the starters.
The Buffaloes have a deeper rotation and also have a good mix of speed and size for Boyle to choose from when inserting players into the game.
Matchup: Tad Boyle (COLO) vs. Travis Ford (OKST)
Boyle is one of the rising superstars in the collegiate coaching profession, and he proved on numerous occasions that he can get his team up for big games.
Ford is no slouch either as he has been successful in almost every season he has been in Stillwater, a place where he has won over 20 games in four of the past five seasons.
Choosing a winner in this matchup is not an easy thing to do, but based off of recent pedigree and the fact that the Buffaloes will be underdogs once again, Boyle gets the edge here.
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