BERKELEY, Calif. — — There is still a lot of basketball to be played, so the Colorado men's team didn't shift into celebration mode after Wednesday's win at Stanford.
The Buffaloes were a loose bunch on Thursday, though, when they spent nearly an hour putting up shots at Haas Pavilion on the California campus.
"We know the world we live in," head coach Tad Boyle said, referring to the gobs of media coverage and bracketology predictions that had the Buffs staring directly at the NCAA Tournament bubble had they lost at Stanford. "That was a big game."
At 21-9 (10-7 Pac-12) the Buffaloes are a good bet to make the NCAA Tournament following Wednesday's victory.
ESPN's Joe Lunardi, who is one of the most respected bracketologists in the country, took CU off the bubble after its 59-56 win over the Cardinal. He has the Buffs as a No. 10 seed, as of Thursday.
CBSSports.com's Jerry Palm lists the Buffs as "probably in" after knocking off a good opponent on the road — something CU had yet to do this season.
CU is now 4-7 against teams in the top 50 RPI rankings, and 8-9 against the top 100. The Buffs are ranked No. 28 on the CBSSports.com RPI rankings, and jumped up to No. 48 on ESPN's BPI rankings.
The Buffs, however, know from recent experience that a good NCAA resume doesn't guarantee a spot. The Buffs were considered a sure-thing to make the Tournament in 2011, but didn't get selected.
In addition to solidifying their NCAA spot, the Buffs head into Saturday's game at Cal (18-12, 9-8) still looking to get into the top four of the conference standings, which would mean a first-round bye for the Pac-12 Tournament next week.
CU is tied with Arizona State for third place (ASU holds the head-to-head tie-breaker with the Buffs). If the Buffs beat Cal, they will clinch at least fourth place. If they win, and ASU loses at Oregon, the Buffs would finish third.
Should the Buffs lose to Cal, there could be a logjam for the third and fourth spots. Heading into the weekend, it is still possible for CU to be involved in a five-way tie for third place.
So, while Wednesday's win was big, it didn't cause a sigh of relief among the players.
"I didn't think it was much of a weight lifted," Eli Stalzer said. "I'm still hungry, still wanting to play and compete."
Sophomore forward Xavier Johnson added: "Stanford is a really good team and for us to come out here and beat them on their own floor just proves that we can beat anybody. But, we have Cal next. We just have to focus on the next game, keep playing hard and finish the season off strong."
CU has had significant scoring droughts in two consecutive games.
On Saturday at Utah, the Buffs went scoreless for a stretch of 8 minutes, 12 seconds. That was part of a stretch of 12:54 where they had just two points.
Wednesday at Stanford, CU scored just two points during a stretch of 10:41 in the second half. They went scoreless during the first 8:16 of that.
"I think we break down mentally, or maybe we try to shoot too fast," guard Xavier Talton said. "We just have to do better at getting the best shot for our team."
The Buffs don't believe there are significant issues with the offense during those stretches. Boyle said his team simply needs to take better care of the ball and take better shots.
Itching to return
A week ago, it appeared that freshman Tre'Shaun Fletcher was on the verge of returning to the court. There was actually some talk that he would play at Utah.
Fletcher has yet to get into a game, though. Wednesday at Stanford was the 13th game in a row that he's missed since injuring his left knee on Jan. 12.
"I think I'm ready, personally, but it's got to be the coach (who makes the call)," Fletcher said. "Whenever they feel that confidence in me, I'll be ready to go."