Colorado is a long shot to reach the NCAA Tournament but a winning streak to end the regular season and a run through the Pac-12 Tournament in Las Vegas would help its chances.
The Buffaloes start that final push with a three-game homestand in Boulder, Colo., against three of the top five teams in the Pac-12 to wrap up conference play, beginning with Southern California on Thursday night.
Colorado (15-13, 7-10 Pac-12) is coming off a loss at then-No. 8 Arizona on Saturday but has been tough to beat at home. The Buffaloes are 11-2 at the CU Events Center.
“We have three home games that are all winnable,” Colorado coach Tad Boyle said after the loss at Arizona. “Now, they’re not going to be easy … (But) we need to finish strong and understand that we can beat any team in this league on any given night when we go to Las Vegas.”
The Trojans (19-8, 11-5) sit in third place in the conference and have won two in a row after being swept on a trip through Oregon. They have a strong backcourt tandem in Boogie Ellis and Drew Peterson, who are the top two scorers on the team. Ellis scores 17.1 points per game and Peterson averages 14.8.
Ellis was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week after scoring 22 points against California and a career-high 33 against Stanford on Saturday.
Ellis hit six of the team’s 13 makes from 3-point range and gave credit to the team’s overall shooting ability against the Cardinal.
“We’re all threats,” Ellis said. “They’ve got to guard me, so I just tried to pick them apart a little bit.”
USC trails crosstown rival UCLA by three games but has an outside chance of capturing the regular-season title. The bigger picture is the NCAA Tournament, and winning eight of its last 11 games helps its portfolio.
The Trojans have four games remaining to strengthen its case — including at Utah on Saturday and home games against Arizona and Arizona State the first week of March.
–Field Level Media