I know, I know, college football just started!
But we're here to talk basketball which is, whether you believe it or not, just around the corner. I'll be sure to spare your Fridays for all the football articles you can gorge on, but from now on - Monday through Thursday each week leading up to the season opener on November 8th - expect a rundown of each of our opponents (Big 12 foes will get two posts, one for each game) as well as a prediction. Feel free to make your prediction in the comments, as the person who most closely predicts our record will win a prize courtesy of yours truly (similar to the stats predictions we ran here on ODB before football season).
So when you comment, please put your prediction in the subject line and your thoughts on the game in the body of the comment, like so:
Subject: Baylor 76 Wofford High School 33
Body: Ted, I think your analysis is garbage. Are you an idiot?
I will then determine the winner at the end of the season based on the following criteria.
1) Correct W/L record.
2) The accuracy of your win picks versus your loss picks
3) Total points scored accuracy
4) Total points allowed accuracy
You must participate on every post to qualify and you must have all your picks made by noon on November 8th for it to count! If that sounds confusing or if I haven't made anything clear, feel free to ask me in the comments!
Now that that is out of the way! Here is your first preview ...
Team: Colorado Buffaloes
Date/Time: November 8th/12:00 pm
Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
Coach: Tad Boyle
Number of returning starters: 4
Key losses: Andre Roberson (to NBA)
Key returnees: Askia Booker, Spencer Dinwiddle
Tad Boyle enters his fourth season as coach with four returning starters from an NCAA Tournament team. I was court side in Waco during Colorado's last season in the Big 12 when Boyle's first Colorado team took our squad (PJIII'sfreshman/Lace's Senior year) to the wire in a tough game and therefore was shocked when the following year they wouldn't have been able to find Brady Heslip even if he was wearing neon yellow ... errr, wait.
Boyle's approach is probably best described as fundamental. Last year's team averaged 67.6 points per game, coming in at 164th nationally. Baylor's 76 points per game was good for 21st nationally. This nearly 10 point difference is a testament to each coach's style of play. Historically (and we can say that now that this is his ELEVENTH season at Baylor) Scott Drew teams struggle in slower paced games, however, I expect things may change on that front a bit this year. The true key to a physical game is rebounding and while Colorado lost their top rebounder this offseason in Andre Roberson to the OKC Thunder, Baylor returns Cory Jefferson, Isaiah Austin and Ricardo Gathers to clean up the boards. With a relatively inexperienced backcourt, you should expect those three along with Taurean Prince to make up for the guards on both the offensive and defensive glass.
Baylor will come into the game with talent much greater than Colorado, but that will be neutralized by experience and physical/hustle plays. This game seems destined to be low scoring and if it were in Boulder I might legitimately be leaning toward picking a Colorado team that seems to consistently overachieve under Boyle. Another note of concern, is that the Buffaloes have their top two guards returning in Dinwiddie and Booker that should prove a tough test for our group in the backcourt. However, with the American Airlines Center being so close to a bed of Baylor Alumni in Dallas, and a sprinkle of brilliant flashes from our newcomers Ishmail Wainright and Kenny Chery, I think the ultimate edge will lend itself to a team who is also ready to prove they have more than the NIT in them. This will be especially true of Isaiah Austin's shoulder injury is a non-factor by the time the game is upon us.
Final prediction: Baylor 64 Colorado 59
For the record, pretty much the entirety of Colorado's roster could make up the All-Name team: Spencer Dinwiddie, Askia Booker, Xavier Talton, Beau Gamble, Tre'Shaun Fletcher, Eli Stalzer ... just to name a few.
TL;DR Version: This is going to be tough. Of course we will have been tested in some non-public scrimmages prior to the season, but this is an fairly difficult way to open the season for a Scott Drew team that has historically not done well in a grind-it-out style approach. Bears win in a close one thanks to Cory Jefferson.