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Colorado Buffaloes Game Preview & How to Watch

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The Huskies return home after a 4-game California road trip

NCAA Basketball: Washington at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Essentials

Date: Wednesday, 1/20/21

Tip-Off Time: 6:00 pm PT

TV: ESPN2

Radio: KJR 950 AM/KVI 570

Streaming: Espn.com/watch

Location: Seattle, Washington

Betting line: Washington +12.5

Colorado Buffaloes 2020-21 Statistics:

Record: 11-3 (5-2)

Points For per Game: 75.9 ppg (72nd)

Points Against per Game: 62.2 ppg (22nd)

Adjusted Offensive Efficiency: 113.4 (18th)

Adjusted Defensive Efficiency: 90.6 (11th)

Strength of Schedule: 46th

Colorado Key Players:

G- McKinley Wright IV, Sr. 6’0, 196: 15.1 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 5.8 apg, 53.0% FG, 33.3% 3pt, 79.6% FT

Wright has cooled off on the offensive end since the first time these 2 teams met as his 3-pt percentage and field goal percentage have each dropped about 15 points. But he’s still one of the best point guards in the country and a walking 15/5/5 as he has been since his freshman season.

G- Eli Parquet, Jr. 6’3, 195: 5.5 ppg, 2.2rpg, 1.3 apg, 46.3% FG, 34.8% 3pt, 86.7% FT

Similarly, Parquet’s shooting percentages have dropped about 20 points since the first matchup against UW and he’s returned to being an average shooter. Eli falls into the “nearly invisible” usage category on KenPom so he basically doesn’t take a shot unless he’s wide open. But he’s fully capable of knocking it down when he is. He also a well above average shot blocker for a 6’3 perimeter player.

C- Evan Battey, Jr. 6’8, 262: 10.0 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1.3 apg, 46.9% FG, 15.4% 3pt, 82.8% FT

I love watching Battey play as he is an absolute brick house down low. He doesn’t get off the ground and can’t protect the rim but once he gets position he bodies you out and manages to get the rebound. Since the UW game (when he was 6/6) he’s shooting 91% from the free throw line so he’ll punish the Huskies if all they can do is foul him under the hoop.

G- D’Shawn Schwartz, Sr. 6’7, 232: 9.3 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, 38.2 FG, 41.9% 3pt, 83.3% FT

Schwartz hasn’t taken a jump as a senior as if he keeps up his current pace he’ll finish averaging between 9 and 10 points per game for 3 straight seasons. He hasn’t been able to finish around the rim this year but the 3-pt shooting has picked up to above 40% on the season and he made 3/5 against UW in the first meeting.

F- Jeriah Horne, Sr. 6’7, 220: 10.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.0 apg, 44.4% FG, 42.9% 3pt, 100% FT

It has been a winding road for Horne who started his career at Nebraska before spending the last two seasons at Tulsa. He’s a Tad Boyle wet dream as a 6’6/6’7 power forward who is a better rebounder than his size might indicate. Just like the rest of the team his 3-pt percentage has come down quite a bit with a larger sample size but he’s still making better than 40% from deep and has knocked down all 18 free throw attempts.

Colorado 2020-21 Shot Chart

Synergy Sports

The Outlook

When these 2 teams met back in December it wasn’t clear how good Colorado actually was. They had blown out 4 mediocre to bad teams and lost against the one good team they played. Since that time they’ve gone 9-2 with only a pair of road losses and a 23 point bludgeoning of the Huskies in Vegas. The advanced metrics all agree that this is a top-15 Colorado team even though the human polls aren’t giving them the credit they’re due.

Perhaps the biggest difference maker when they played in December was Colorado center Dallas Walton who had a career high 22 points on just 7 shot attempts while going 10/10 from the free throw line. He has been out for Colorado’s last 6 games but is likely going to return to play against the Huskies. Walton’s recent absence has allowed 4-star freshman Jabari Walker to emerge. Walker just won P12 FotW and has averaged 16 points per game in their last 3 despite playing only 20 minutes per game. His inside out game playing at the free throw line could give the Husky defense serious problems.

The Buffs went 26/28 from the free throw line last month against UW and that can’t be considered an aberration. They’re the best free throw shooting team in the nation at 84.6% and Washington absolutely has to find away to defend without fouling because gets another 20+ attempts it’s impossible for UW’s offense to be able to keep pace.

And yet despite all of that the Buffs have an even better adjusted defensive efficiency. They’re not elite at any particular thing but are above average at just about everything. Opponent possessions take 18.4 seconds which is almost the slowest pace in the country. Colorado makes you work for everything. It takes a ton of ball movement to break them down and usually teams either settle for bad shots or make a mistake before that happens. Colorado is 24th in non-steal TO% and 266th in steal %. They trust that you’ll make a bad pass or travel rather than gamble and force the issue.

The Huskies played their best half of the season last week against UCLA and considering the location and opponent it might have been their best overall game. The team reportedly had an emotional team meeting before that UCLA which helped inspire that effort and it will be interesting to see if there’s any carryover now that we’re a few days removed. Nate Pryor who didn’t make the LA road trip is available and has had the best on/off court splits of any player this year. We’ll see how Hop handles the rotation with Stevenson and Tsohonis playing better recently.

Even if Washington plays with the same heart and effort that they did against UCLA I don’t think it will be enough to keep it competitive with a Colorado team that really seems to have it clicking on all cylinders right now.

Prediction

Washington Huskies- 70, Colorado Buffaloes- 85

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