There are 32 games on Thursday and Friday, one of the most exciting 48-hour segments on the sports calendar.
We won’t be able to get individual previews up for every game, but we’ll cherry pick some of the more compelling matchups during the tournament’s “second” round.
In this post, we preview the 6-11 matchup in the South Region between the uber-athletic UNLV Rebels and the Pac-12 champion Colorado Buffaloes.
UNLV-Colorado Game Info
- Seeds & Region: #6 UNLV v #11 Colorado in South Region
- UNLV-Colorado Date: Thursday, March 15th
- UNLV-Colorado Tip Time: 9:52 ET
- UNLV-Colorado Location: Albuquerque
- UNLV-Colorado TV: truTV
- UNLV-Colorado Announcers: Spero Dedes and Bob Wenzel
- UNLV-Colorado Point Spread: UNLV -5
- Tickets: UNLV-Colorado Tickets
- Tickets: All Albuquerque Sessions
- Tickets: South Regional Tickets in Atlanta
UNLV-Colorado Analysis and Prediction
Colorado ripped off four straight wins to earn the Pac-12 automatic bid, but I don’t see them extending that streak in the Big Dance.
The Rebels are the better defensive team, and Colorado’s only real advantage on offense is its high free throw rate. I wouldn’t expect a tournament game to be called too closely though, which negates a bit of that advantage, and I also think Mike Moser can help to neutralize Colorado sophomore Andre Roberson.
I also think UNLV’s depth and experience will be a factor, and I simply can’t see the Buffs being able to score enough to win.
Predicted Winner: UNLV
UNLV Rebels Team Capsule
- Conference: Mountain West
- Record: 26-8 (9-5 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 5-5
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 5-6
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: California, Colorado State, New Mexico, North Carolina, San Diego State
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: Colorado State, New Mexico (2), San Diego State, Wichita State, Wisconsin
- Player to Watch: Mike Moser (6’8” F, So.) – 14.1 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 2.3 apg, 1.8 spg, 0.9 bpg
UNLV Rebels Bottoms Line:
The Rebels burst onto the scene this year by beating North Carolina in November, but they struggled away from home in Mountain West play. Offensively, UNLV ranks in the Top 50 in both two- and three-point shooting, but they are outside of the Top 100 in most other key categories.
They boast a pair of versatile players in Mike Moser and Chace Stanback, both of whom score in double figures. Moser can put the ball in the basket but is also relentless on the glass and impacts the game on the defensive end. Stanback made over 46 percent from long range, and his size at 6-foot-8 makes him a tough matchup. Guards Anthony Marshall and Oscar Bellfield combine for nearly 10 assists per game, and Marshall has posted a strong free throw rate based on his ability to get into the lane.
The Rebels are solid defensively and rank in the Top 30 in adjusted efficiency, thanks in large part to solid block and steal percentages as well as two-point defense. They have the potential to make a deep tournament run, but they have also come up short against mediocre teams, which makes them difficult to predict.
Colorado Buffaloes Team Capsule
- Conference: Pac-12
- Record: 23-11 (11-7 conf)
- Last 10 Games: 7-3
- Record vs. Tournament Teams: 2-3
- Wins vs. Tournament Teams: California (2)
- Losses vs. Tournament Teams: California, Colorado State, Wichita State,
- Player to Watch:Andre Roberson (6’7” F, So.) – 11.6 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.2 spg, 1.9 bpg, 50.9 FG%
Colorado Buffaloes Bottoms Line:
The Pac-12 was the butt of countless jokes over the course of the season, and the Buffs didn’t seem to have much momentum heading into the conference tournament after having lost three of their last four games. But after winning four games in four days, the final three of which were over at-large hopefuls, the Buffs ended up with the automatic bid and arguably the best profile of any team in the league.
The strength of this team lies on the defensive end, where they are in the Top 50 in adjusted efficiency. They do a nice job of limiting offensive rebounds, and while they don’t force many turnovers, the Buffs do a number of other things well. On offense, Colorado is effective at getting to the free throw line, but they rank outside of the Top 100 in virtually every other category.
Utah transfer Carlon Brown leads the team in scoring with 12.6 points per game and hits nearly 53 percent from two-point range. Super soph Andre Roberson is Colorado’s best player, as the lanky, six-foot-seven forward is among the best in the country in terms of both offensive and defensive rebounding rates. He is also an impressive shotblocker and has done a solid job of drawing fouls as well. Senior point guard Nate Tomlinson leads the squad in assists with 3.1 per game, and three other Buffaloes score at least 8.7 points per game, including sharpshooter Spencer Dinwiddie who makes 43.6 percent from deep.
Related: Jump to our South Region Bracket Breakdown.
See our other individual game previews and predictions:
- South Region: #4 Indiana v #13 New Mexico State
- South Region: #5 Wichita State v #12 VCU
- South Region: #6 UNLV v #11 Colorado
- South Region: #7 Notre Dame v #10 Xavier
- South Region: #8 Iowa State v #9 Connecticut
- West Region: #4 Louisville v #13 Davidson
- West Region: #5 New Mexico v #12 Long Beach State
- West Region: #6 Murray State v #11 Colorado State
- West Region: #7 Florida v #10 Virginia
- West Region: #8 Memphis v #9 Saint Louis
- East Region: #4 Wisconsin v #13 Montana
- East Region: #5 Vanderbilt v #12 Harvard
- East Region: #6 Cincinnati v #11 Texas
- East Region: #7 Gonzaga v #10 West Virginia
- East Region: #8 Kansas State v #9 Southern Miss
- Midwest Region: #3 Georgetown v #14 Belmont
- Midwest Region: #4 Michigan v #13 Ohio
- Midwest Region: #5 Temple v #12 Cal/USF
- Midwest Region: #6 San Diego State v #11 NC State
- Midwest Region: #7 St. Mary’s v #10 Purdue
- Midwest Region: #8 Creighton v #9 Alabama