Like any sage or purveyor of premonitions, I can already see the responses in my mind’s eye, the vitriol ready to be thrown my way throughout the Twitter-verse.
After all, I’m a cynic by nature. This will surely be brought to attention when I’m called words so vulgar that my mother saves them for the times when I send awkwardly worded confessions of misbehavior to my relatives at 4 a.m. after too many bottles of wine. I’m not willing to discuss the frequency of that, for that is to be hashed out another time. But the fans of Buff Nation will hurl those same condemning words my way momentarily.
The Colorado men’s basketball team will not win a game in Los Angeles this week. For your own sanity, please reread that sentence at least five times, put away your Twitter machine for a minute, and realize that I’m not lying to you. Colorado will be swept by USC and UCLA this week—and it’s okay.
As my consigliere of sweat pants fashion, Tyler Ziskin (@TZiskBuff) so eloquently said last night, the top six teams in the Pac-12 Conference are a combined 86-3 at home this season. Of those three losses, two of them came at the hands of Oregon, who beat both Utah and Arizona in their home buildings. The third you remember well, Colorado’s loss to Utah in Boulder that is the current difference between the Buffs and a more clear and defined path to the Pac-12 title, or at least, a first-round bye in Las Vegas March, 9.
Basically, winning on the road in college basketball is hard, quite difficult, if you will. In fact, it could be argued that affording rent in New York City while working for scraps is easier than winning on the road, but I wouldn’t know anything about that.
Tad Boyle’s group has won on the road twice this season, at Stanford and Washington State, perhaps the two most stale atmospheres for college hoops in the conference and home to programs that employ head coaches the rest of the conference can only hope they’re stupid enough to keep paying. Winning on the road is difficult, especially in a conference that has so little separation in quality among its top eight teams.
Boyle does know the feeling of leaving the Galen Center on the campus of USC with a 'W'. He’s 7-0 against USC at Colorado, going 5-0 against Andy Enfield. It hasn’t always been pretty; in fact, it’s usually the kind of basketball that makes you regret ever following the sport to begin with. But they’ve won ‘em all, which is more than the Buffs can say about their date nights with any other Pac-12 opponent.
The Trojans are different this season, however, which you should know unless you haven’t paid any attention this season (looking at you students). Enfield’s recruiting juice has paid off with a duo of impressive freshmen, a dynamic sophomore point guard in Jordan McLaughlin, and a veteran spark plug in Julian Jacobs. Not to mention, Nikola Jovanovic—also known for his staring role on every single team ever with a player from that part of the world. But, seriously, these guys can score the hell out of the ball and do it in bunches. Their perimeter poses the kind of threat to CU’s defense that Hazel’s once did to local liquor stores. Coming off of two straight losses, the Trojans will be dialed in for the biggest homes-stand of their season, as things could get dicey with a few more home losses.
Colorado isn’t going to beat USC.
Traveling to UCLA has been a house of horrors, with the Buffaloes having yet to win a game in Westwood. But UCLA is a mess and Steve Alford still hasn’t fixed his toupee, you say. I get it, truly. Watching this team has been a lot like watching “Gigly” the first time—all those assets, yet gobble gobble still made it to movie theaters. Depending on Josh Scott’s health, UCLA’s frontline of Thomas Welsh and Tony Parker could be a challenge, but the question of who in the hell is going to guard either Isaac Hamilton or Cody Hawk…I mean, Bryce Alford, still remains. Somewhere, while laying down on some kind of tapestry, good ol’ Dan is rooting for Bryce. Plus, the Bruins have been plenty formidable at home, at times, this season and are coming off a road trip where they should have gone 2-0 in Arizona.
Colorado isn’t going to beat UCLA.
I know this is difficult to read, to accept even. Wins this week would seal up Colorado’s NCAA Tournament resume and keep hopes alive for a shot at the conference title. It would further cement this season as Tad Boyle’s best coaching job, by a wide margin I might add, and remind certain people in the fan base of his importance to the program. But this is what happens every time Colorado gets ready for a road trip. The kool-aid (vodka, the only explanation) gets flowing and people start talking about road sweeps and road wins against teams that would push the Buffs at Coors Event Center, let alone on their own home floor. Then, when the inevitable happens, there is nothing but rubble left for all of us to deal with—entertaining but maddening, only furthering my dependence on bourbon.
The Colorado men’s basketball team will not win a game in Los Angeles this week. And that’s okay.