Colorado was off like a shot to open Pac-12 play with three straight victories and riding high but things have taken a wrong turn as the Buffs had trouble scoring in the Bay Area and got swept by Cal and Stanford. The good news for CU is that they have won nine of their ten home games.
Colorado runs out an impressive troika of guards that will give ASU fits. Tomlinson is a steady ball handler that gives the rock to his playmakers Brown and Dinwiddie. Brown, a Utah transfer, has been an impressive playmaker while Dinwiddie is lights out from long range. All three starting guards are good at taking care of the ball and knocking down foul shots – two things to keep an eye on this one. Off the bench are Askia Booker, sabatino chen and Jeremy Adams with Booker as one of the better sixth men in the conference.
It's going to be an adventure with Chris Colvin running the point as he is sometimes excellent (see closing minutes vs. Oregon State) and he is sometimes not sure what color his team is wearing (see most other game action). As long as Colvin can be a solid game manager and keep the ball in ASU's possession, the Devils have a shot even with a ridiculously depleted rotation. Starting aside Colvin will be Felix and Creekmur. Felix is going to have to really take control in this one as lone playmaker available while no one would really be upset if Creekmur decided to go off for 24 more points. Reserves include….Max Heller? This will be fun. I promise.
Edge – Colorado
Andre Roberson is not your typical interior physical presence but the man is just huge down low averaging a double-double per game while his frontcourt mate, Austin Dufault is another solid big that has really improved each year since arriving in Boulder. Now a senior, Dufault is a strong inside-outside threat that can knock down shots on the perimeter and stretch the defense. Off the bench in relief down low is the Aussie, Shane Harris-Tunks and true freshman Damiene Cain.
One bright side amidst all the chaos in the last month has been Ruslan Pateev's efficiency in the paint. The Pac-12's leading shooter in terms of percentage, Pateev has been a little more assertive but could even be more impactful if he took more control underneath. Playing the role of fourth guard/power forward will be Gilling – a sharp shooter that can really be effective if getting open looks from his guards. Another added bonus from Gilling is his deft passing abilities. Adding depth down low are Jordan Bachysnki and Kyle Cain.
Edge - ASU
How ASU Wins
It's really simple – high percentage shots and holding onto the ball. This projected starting five is currently averaging a total combined 35 points per game. If they played this game on paper, ASU would already be in Salt Lake City. For an ASU upset, Chris Colvin really needs to keep the game under control and find the open man. Creekmur and Gilling are always waiting for a nice open three while Felix just needs a little space to create. If Colvin plays well and one of the shooters can get hot – ASU will go to .500 in league play.
Final Score – Colorado 69 ASU 62