The Colorado Buffaloes started off the season in promising fashion. Their record before conference play was 10-3 and 2-0 against the top 25 with wins against Texas and Xavier.
Then the team fell victim to one of the hardest schedules in the country, an unfortunate truth for every team in the PAC-12, a conference with three teams in the AP top 10.
Colorado has the 70th ranked strength of schedule, ahead of teams like West Virginia and the number one team in the country, Gonzaga, who sits at a perfect 24-0.
In the span of two weeks, the Buffs faced a challenging west coast road trip followed by two home games against ranked teams.
Tad Boyle’s group was beaten down by the Utah Utes 76-60, and then, four days later, lost a heartbreaker in the final seconds 78-77 to the Arizona State Sun Devils.
Two days later, the Buffs found themselves playing No. 17 and the soon to be hottest team in the country, Arizona Wildcats at their place.
The Wildcats were too much to handle and won by nine.
Five days go by, and here come Lonzo Ball and the No. 4 ranked UCLA Bruins into Boulder.
104 points later, the most points given up by CU since the 2009-10 season when they gave up 102 to number two Texas, the Buffs find themselves in the midst of a four game losing streak.
The next opponent and perhaps the icing on the cake came in the form of the 25th ranked USC Trojans. After another close game, the Buffs again fell short and lost 71-68 putting their conference record at 0-5, the worst start by a CU team since 2008 when they went 0-4 and were members of the Big-12.
Back-to-back OT losses to Washington and Washington State put the Buffs at the bottom of the PAC with an 0-7 record.
This team looked so promising at 10-3, and had some pretty high expectations, but as the year progressed ,it’s easy to see why the Buffs are now 3-8 in their past 11 games. The PAC-12 is the third best conference in basketball right now, behind only the ACC and the BIG-12.
Unfortunately, the top teams in the conference of champions restacked their teams, and it seems as though the Buffs didn’t.
The top two recruits in 2017, according to ESPN, Michael Porter Jr. and DeAndre Clayton have already committed to Washington and Arizona.
In 2016, the fourth rated recruit coming out of high school, Lonzo Ball, and the seventh ranked Markelle Fultz-both widely believed to be the first two point guards off the board in the upcoming NBA draft, chose UCLA and Washington. Arizona signed Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins, two five star recruits.
What these Pac-12 teams are doing is stacking up for now and the future. Although, Arizona could lose many of their five stars to the NBA, not all of them will leave after one year.
UCLA is starting to make some noise in the recruiting trail, as they enjoy an unbelievable season, and Washington has proved to attract and breed NBA talent. Their talented center Marquese Chriss went 8th in the 2016 NBA draft and Fultz as I mentioned could be a lottery pick.
This age of college basketball is dominated by freshman one and done’s. With only one four-star recruit Bryce Peters in 2016, and two four star recruits, committed for next year, the Buffs could struggle with the talent level needed to compete for a Pac-12 title and a tournament berth.
Experienced teams do well in March and when it really counts as the Buffs have shown in the past, but it can’t happen every year. Seniors and Juniors can only do so much against teams with players that could potentially already be playing in the NBA.
Losing streaks and bad months of basketball should not be taken lightly, but does this recent stretch of losing come to a surprise for this Buffalo team and the fans?
The one thing you can expect from this team though is to never quit, which was proven with a victory against number 10 Oregon at home Saturday night.
The Buffs host Fultz and Washington on Thursday night at 8pm on FS1.