When the term Rocky Mountain Showdown is thrown around, it is often associated with the heated rivalry between the Colorado State and University of Colorado football teams; not the basketball teams. But with the ascension of the schools' basketball programs, the last several years have seen an increase in the competitiveness and overall entertainment factor when the two schools meet. And it has more than it's fair share of trash talk.
When asked what he thought of playing schools in Colorado and Wyoming's front range, Colorado coach Tad Boyle had this to say about it...
"These games mean more, I think, emotionally to Colorado State and to Wyoming and to Air Force than they do to us," Boyle said. "That doesn't mean we don't take them serious, because we do and they're important games for us. But, those teams want to beat us and they want to beat us in the worst way."
That is a pretty transparent statement from the coach, and pretty ironic when you consider Colorado's performance against Front Range schools the past several years. In the last two years, Colorado has gone 3-3 against those schools with two loses to Wyoming and a loss to Colorado State. But the coach is not the only one contributing to the Rams' bulletin board.
Guard Spencer Dinwiddie brought out the old little brother moniker when talking about the Rams priror to last year's meeting.
"You just kind of see when the little brother beats the big brother once, then they are going to be happy, they are going to rush the court," Spencer Dinwiddie said."When we win (tonight), I don't think our fans are going to do that."
So for those unfamiliar with the basketball edition of the Rocky Mountain Showdown, make no mistake, it will be chippy and there will be a lot of emotion on the hardwood come 7 o' clock tonight.
What they do well
The Buffaloes play extremely well when they set an up beat tempo. If they are allowed to run the floor, the quickly get opponents in foul trouble.They rank 14th in the country in free throw attempts, and 10th in made free throws. They are a rather modest shooting squad, but make up for it on the glass. They have a rebound rate of 57% good enough for 10th in the country. They accomplish this with a lot of length in the interior, including 6' 10" center Josh Scott who averages nine rebounds a game. All of their bigs are extremely athletic and can cause match up problems with slower forwards.
What they struggle with
Colorado's weakness is when the game slows down. That is why Wyoming has found so much success against the Buffs the past three years. They slow them down and make them play half court offense. When Colorado plays half court, it leads to fouls and turnovers; both of which they rank worse than 150th. They are not terrific shooting the ball and are vulnerable on their perimeter defense.
Prediction: Colorado State 86 Colorado 81
Originally I was going to pick the Buffs to win as they have an exceptionally talented squad with senior leadership, but I do not think giving the Rams extra motivation to win works in their favor. JJ Avila will give Colorado's interior players all the can handle, and should free up Marcus Holt and Gerson Santo to make some plays. For the Rams, it will all come down to shooting and rebounding. The Rams have yet to have a great shooting night, and will need to so tonight in order to open the floor and keep Colorado honest on defense. Octeus, Bejarano, and Avila have been extremely effective getting to the line and converting, and should continue that trend. If Colorado State can defense the perimeter and minimize second chances when Colorado misses, they should be able to keep the Buffs in check. Rams use the extra motivation to win this one.