Tad Boyle's team gave him more gray hair Saturday.
All Colorado's basketball coach needed was a few cocktails and some fat eyeglasses and he might have resembled Harry Caray when he started his postgame press conference by borrowing Caray's signature phrase.
"Holy cow," Boyle said with a smile. "We needed that one."
He was right of course. The Buffs needed their 79-75 overtime victory over Utah in a big way. It's not an exaggeration to say they were desperate for it, especially because it was a home game.
Here is a fact. Unless the Buffs win the Pac-12 Conference Tournament in March, they must do well in the beauty contest judged by the NCAA Tournament selection committee to get an at-large berth to their third consecutive big dance.
It hasn't been looking good for the Buffs of late with four losses in the previous five games prior to Saturday.
The Buffs can just about assure themselves of a spot in the tournament six weeks from now if they win the remaining four home games on their schedule and have a respectable showing in the Pac-12 tournament. We can say that with confidence because one of those victories would be against Arizona, which has spent two months ranked No. 1 in the nation.
Regardless of whether Arizona is still No. 1 in three weeks when it visits Boulder, the Wildcats still figure to be a top-five team and beating them would give CU three top-10 victories this season. Two of them came with point guard Spencer Dinwiddie in the lineup and one would be without him.
The reality is, this team still needs a signature win post-Dinwiddie to enhance its resume. If it doesn't get that win, it can plan on sweating out another tournament selection show in Boyle's living room.
The best chance to get a win that turns heads is Feb. 22 against the Wildcats. Nothing says you belong in the tournament like beating a team that looks like a probable No. 1 seed.
But there is more value in winning out at home for the Buffs. Doing so would avenge two of the Buffs' worst losses this season at Washington, where Dinwiddie and freshman Tre'Shaun Fletcher were injured, and at Arizona State, where the Buffs were simply dreadful.
After beating the Utes Saturday, Boyle lamented that some have counted his team out because of the injuries to Dinwiddie and Feltcher. Boyle said he gets the sense that there is an opinion about his team from some that the Buffs need to wait until next year.
"Forget that, forget that,' he said. "It's about getting better right now, this year. We've got a lot to play for. It's going to be hard from here on in."
Boyle's Buffs are 16-6 overall and 5-4 in Pac-12 play following Saturday's victory. Four more wins at home, assuming they lose the remaining five on the road, would make the Buffs 20-11 at the end of the regular season.
Obviously it wouldn't hurt to also get a road win or two down the stretch, but even if CU doesn't, there won't be many teams around the nation who can argue they deserve to be in the tournament over CU. Not many teams will be able to match the RPI CU should have at that point along with victories over Kansas and Arizona.
So win out in Boulder Buffs and you probably won't have to play an NIT game here in March. Lose at home, especially to any team other than Arizona, without a few road wins and you're bubble team at best.