I admit that I missed the boat on the Colorado Buffaloes last season when I predicted them to struggle in their inaugural year in the Pac-12. Instead, Tad Boyle's team earned the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament and will push for a return trip again this year.
The key cog for Colorado is versatile forward Andre Roberson. The 6-7 high flyer averaged a double-double last season, finishing fourth in the nation with 11.1 rebounds per game. Roberson continues to improve his outside shooting and being even more dependable from 15 feet and out will help him take his game to an even higher level.
Having graduated Austin Dufault, the Buffaloes need either Shane Harris-Tunks or freshman Josh Scott to step into the starting center spot. Scott was one of the top-10 center recruits in the 2012 class and should make an immediate impact from the start of the season. He is more skilled and athletic, but not as physical as Harris-Tunks. The duo should be a solid complement to Roberson inside while seven-footer Ben Mills and newcomer Wesley Johnson will try to add some depth off the bench.
Perhaps the biggest reason for Colorado's success last season was the instant impact made by Spencer Dinwiddie and Askia Booker. With Carlon Brown and Nate Tomlinson finishing their collegiate careers, the sophomore duo will take on a larger role this season. Both Dinwiddie and Booker are capable of running the point or playing off the ball which makes them rather interchangeable in the lineup.
Either Jeremy Adams or Sabatino Chen will have to emerge from a role player to starting wing. Adams is the more offensive of the two, while Chen makes his biggest impact on the defensive end. A quartet of freshmen will compete for playing time as well, led by small forward Xavier Johnson, who could eventually work his way into the starting five due to his versatility on both ends. Xavier Talton figures to see immediate court time as well, backing up Booker at the point though Dinwiddie is certainly capable of being the primary ball-handler as well.
The young core of Roberson, Dinwiddie, and Booker will drive the Buffaloes, which figure to be among the handful of Pac-12 teams vying for an at-large bid. For Colorado to make it back to the tourney, the surrounding talent must do their part as well in hopes that someone makes an unexpected impact similar to what Dinwiddie and Booker were able to do during their freshman campaigns.
Player to Watch: Spencer Dinwiddie, G
Roberson will be the most hyped Buffalo this season, but Colorado needs Dinwiddie to emerge as a No. 1 scoring option. A Pac-12 All-Freshman Team selection last year, he has the handles to break down defenders, is awesome in transition, and can stroke it from deep which makes him a pretty versatile threat.
Key Non-Conference Games:
11/15 vs. Dayton (Charleston Classic)
11/16 vs. Baylor/Boston College (Charleston Classic)
11/18 vs. St. John's/Charleston/Murray State/Auburn (Charleston Classic)
@Black&Gold Problem is that you see Eli and Cobi as solid backups. Truth is that Eli is number 2 and Cobi is our number 3. They aren't backups, but starters. So what you're saying is that we have no true number 2, but see no need in drafting a receiver? What D line depth are you thinking? DE or NT? Have you seen what LT Walton has done? Remember he's only in his second year.
@Steelr Fan 3:16 Coates was supposed to be plan B at number 2 with the uncertainty of Bryant. You make the case that he's a one trick pony and not a 50 catch per season wide-out, so does that scream out as a option for number 2? What gives you hope about Green? I hope he does end up staying on the field, but so far in his career he hasn't be able to do that. I like James, but if he goes down you trust Grimble? He can't block, and hasn't been reliable in the pass game. He did mess his ribs up with a nice touchdown reception a few weeks ago. That still doesn't mean he can pick up and be an impact if James would not be able to go. We have 7 picks in this draft. The first I hope goes OLB. We are good at CB with Burnes and @[email protected] will be challenged hopefully by Golson. Loser of the battle would be a good slot corner. Golson lacks length so they may throw him in the slot role anyways. LT Walton has been more than solid at DE. If Heyward or Tuitt can't go a few weeks during the season then I have faith in LT to get the job done. I like Chickillo and Moates at OLB. They have started and played solid. Williams and Dirty Red at backup ILB is good depth that any team would love. Safety we have Golden and Dangerfield. Both have started any didn't miss a beat. Offensive line? Yeah, we're good there. You say we're good at tight end and WR, so with or final 6 picks we're going what exactly? A RB would be nice with Williams age. A backup that won't see the field unless God forbid Bell gets hurt is a wasted pick anywhere in the top 4 rounds. Maybe 5th would be suffice. That's 2 picks gone and 5 to go. A backup QB of the future would be nice. Four to go. A special teamed lol? Warren, Boswell, and Berry are really good.
Mock I have been developing in various iterations. Did a trade, and was drafting based on data I've gathered via watching college games, NFL games, reading mock drafts, and my own internal evaluations. Please, feedback is always welcome.