NCAA Basketball: Pick Colorado -11.5 vs. San Francisco

Joe Gavazzi

Wednesday, December 3, 2014 6:44 PM GMT

A snapshot of these teams will give us a reason why the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

The underrated West Coast conference is the home of a San Francisco team who has been unable to crack the upper echelon of the league on a continuing basis. Gonzaga, St. Mary’s, and in recent years, BYU, have dominated the top of the loop. Much the same can be said regarding the Colorado program, which since transferring loyalties from the Big 12 to the PAC 12 has had a tough time ascending to the upper echelon of the premier conference on the West Coast. A snapshot of these teams will give us a reason why the more things change, the more they stay the same. 

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Last year, San Francisco had one of the best seasons under 7th year HC Rex Walters. The Dons finished in a surprising 2nd place tie in the WCC with a record of 13-5 SU. But, the 21-12 SU record for the season relegated San Francisco to a 1st round NIT knockout. The accomplishment was even more impressive considering that veteran PG Doolin decided to transfer 4 games into the season. Equally mystifying was the transfer of starting guard Avey Holmes at the conclusion of the season.  He would have been the leading returning scorer for this team. The loss of those 2 players is a microcosm of a program which has suffered a high rate of attrition due to the demanding coaching style of Walters.  Also missing from this year’s team is departed front court player, Cole Dickerson, who led the team in scoring and rebounds in each of the last two seasons. Though the Dons return a pair of double-digit scorers in Tollefsen and Pinkins, the losses would appear to outnumber the gains.  Until Walters fits the new pieces together, this team may struggle. Recent losses in the Holiday tournament by 15 to FGCU and 7 to Evansville, imply this analysis is a reality.  It would not be a surprise to this bureau if the Dons plummet from their lofty perch in the WCC.

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Last year was a testimony to the strong coaching of Colorado 5th year HC Tad Boyle. The mid-season loss of Spencer Dinwiddie presented a huge challenge.  But, the Buffs responded with a 3rd place finish in the PAC 10, a 23-12 SU season and 2nd round NCAA appearance. This year, with all other starters returning, expectations are again high in Boulder.  Remember, this is a program which has won 21 or more games every season under Boyle. Interior forces of Scott and Gordon will be tough for San Francisco to match today. In addition, the experience of Askia Booker as lead guard is invaluable. After opening with a pair of blowout wins on this court, the Buffs received a wake-up call with a 56-33 loss at Wyoming. That defeat was followed by a pair of win, no covers, against outmanned Air Force and Lipscomb, providing plenty of line value as they use the strong Coors Center home court where they are 42-7 L2Y, along with the altitude advantage of Boulder, for a dominant 20 point victory tonight against visiting San Francisco. 

Free NCAA Basketball Pick: Colorado -11 at The Greek