The Colorado Buffaloes are set for a second-round matchup with either the Duke Blue Devils or the Iona Gaels, and after their dominant win over the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders, it’s hard to feel anything but overwhelming confidence for the CU women — no matter their opponent.

The Buffs got off to a slow start, and trailed early by a score of 6-5, as their offense just couldn’t manage to find its footing.

That quickly changed as Tayanna Jones caught fire. She sunk a three that put CU back in front, created a takeaway on the defensive end, and then scurried down the court to connect on a second-consecutive lead, more than doubling her team’s point total in under 60 seconds.

Quay Miller and Frida Formann then followed suit, as each connected on a three-point shot to extend CU’s lead to 17-6.

Miller’s shot snapped her 0-for-16 cold streak that loomed large throughout Colorado’s Pac-12 Tournament disappointment, and got her rolling, which will be key as the Buffs forge ahead in the bracket.

Colorado then held that 11-point lead for the remainder of the quarter, as Aaronette Vonleh connected on an and-one opportunity in the waning minutes to ensure CU held serve.

The second quarter started with the Blue Raiders slowly gnawing away at the Buffaloes’ lead, as the Buffs’ foul-happy and turnover-prone play allowed the Raiders to hang around, despite out-shooting and out-rebounding MTSU by dominant margins.

As Middle Tennessee State sliced the lead to six, Jaylyn Sherrod sunk a three to fluff the lead back up to nine. Once the lead was narrowed to five, at 33-28, Sherrod landed a shot while engulfed by an ocean of blue jerseys, and then Sadler fought through a foul to get another bucket in the paint for the Colorado Buffaloes. Despite missing her foul shot, CU rebounded, converted the four-point play, and created a double-digit lead they would maintain for the rest of the day.

Kindyll Wetta quickly got a steal, followed by a three-pointer on a Tameiya Sadler dish, and the Buffs went into the locker room riding the highest of highs — a 9-0 run that extended the lead to 14, and punctuated the half with a bang.

Colorado’s raging inferno from beyond the arc didn’t cool or wane any during the halftime intermission, and they quickly proved that point with a Formann three-point shot to open the half.

As the lead grew to 17, CU could breathe a small sigh of relief, despite being just one minute into the second half. Only five teams in the history of the NCAA Women’s Tournament had given up leads of more than 17 points and the Colorado Buffaloes weren’t going to join those miserable squads today.

They were too hot and their size difference was too dominant a mismatch.

MTSU briefly got their head above water, and constructed a 5-0 run, but just as soon as their lungs captured a gasp of oxygen, Formann and Sadler plunged them back into the cold, liquid abyss, sinking three-pointers on three-consecutive possessions, and expanding the CU margin to 21.

The Raiders once again managed to show a spark of life, as they responded with a small 4-0 run, but it proved to be the last time they showed a pulse, as JR Payne’s squad insisted on ending this game in three quarters, and closed the third frame with a 12-2 run that put CU up 70-44, and made the fourth quarter nothing more than a formality.

Tempers flared in the game’s final period, as Jaylyn Sherrod caught an elbow just 10 seconds in — which was deemed an intentional foul by the officials — and Jada Wynn caught a forearm to the trachea that removed her from the contest a few minutes later.

CU punished MTSU by sinking all of their punitive free throws and winning 82-60.

That win represents the Buffs’ first since 2002 and the era of Ceal Berry.

The storylines of the game for the Colorado Buffaloes have to be their rebounding dominance and their amazing three-point shooting performance.

CU tallied nine offensive rebounds, to MTSU’s four, and 40 rebounds in total, to MTSU’s 23. That means nearly one-third of the time Colorado missed a shot, they managed to secure the rebound themselves — a ridiculous rate.

For comparison, Middle Tennessee did that about one-eighth of the time.

From long range, the Buffs were impeccable. Through the game’s first three quarters — when they were still giving their full effort — the Buffaloes shot a ludicrous 13-for-25 on three-point attempts.

Those 13 makes are good for a new program record in the NCAA Tournament, as well as a season-high for the program this season. That second fact probably isn’t surprising, as the team averaged just six per game in conference play this season.

As a result, they scored 82 points, nearly 20 more than their Pac-12 play average of 63.

Colorado played their best game of the season at the right time, and if they can maintain this peak for any amount of time, have a chance to cause some real damage in the NCAA Women’s Tournament.

Here’s hoping you had them advancing far in your bracket.