Pac-12 seeding scenarios
The Colorado men's basketball team could finish between fourth and sixth in the Pac-12. Here are the CU seed scenarios for the Pac-12 Tournament:
No. 4 seed with a CU win over Oregon State; Utah defeats Oregon; Arizona defeats Arizona State
No. 4 seed with a CU win over Oregon State; Oregon defeats Utah; Arizona State defeats Arizona; Washington defeats Washington State; Cal defeats Stanford
No. 4 seed with a CU win over Oregon State; Utah defeats Oregon; Arizona State defeats Arizona (Washington, Cal results do not effect seeding)
No. 5 seed with a CU win over Oregon State; Arizona defeats Arizona State; Oregon defeats Utah; Cal defeats Stanford
No. 5 seed with a CU win over Oregon State, Arizona defeats Arizona State; Oregon defeats Utah; Stanford defeats Cal
No. 5 seed with a CU loss to Oregon State; Washington defeats UCLA
No. 6 seed with a CU loss to Oregon State; UCLA defeats Washington
Tad Boyle, despite Colorado's costly 90-81 loss to Oregon, believes the big picture for his team is a bright one.
On Thursday night the CU head coach rediscovered his confidence in the bench while Carlon Brown was finding his offensive game just down the road in Eugene.
"These guys have an opportunity to do something that has never been done in 111 years of Colorado basketball. That's right there for our taking," Boyle said of the Buffs being one win away from the first back-to-back 20-win seasons in program history. "If we beat Oregon State, we at least solidify fifth place. And we get another crack at Oregon, hopefully."
The Buffs (19-10, 11-6) can still nab the No. 4 seed at the Pac-12 Tournament with a win in the regular-season finale Saturday against Oregon State at Gill Coliseum (2 p.m., Root Sports).
CU, currently fifth in the standings, would also need some surprising help -- Utah (0-14 on the road) upsetting Oregon (21-8, 12-5) at the Matt Knight Center and/or Arizona State (9-20) rising from the ashes like a Phoenix and beating rival Arizona (21-9, 12-5).
A loss Saturday coupled with a UCLA (17-13, 10-7) win over first-place Washington (21-8, 14-4) could drop the Buffs down to the No. 6 seed.
"It's absolutely wide open," Boyle said of next week's conference tournament at the Staples Center. "We had some positives (against Oregon). Carlon played well and our depth was good. We're going to need our bench to play well in L.A."
CU men's basketball preview
SATURDAY: The Colorado Buffaloes (19-10, 11-6) finish the regular season against the Oregon State Beavers (16-13, 6-11) at 2 p.m. at Gill Coliseum.
BROADCAST: Television on Root Sports with Kevin Calabro (play-by-play) and Don MacLean (analyst). Radio on KKZN (AM 760) with Mark Johnson (play-by-play) and Chris Lewis (color). Follow on Twitter @RyanThorburn.
STORYLINES: CU can earn the No. 4 seed at the Pac-12 Tournament with a win and a lot of help and must win to clinch the No. 5 seed. ... The Buffs can also reach the 20-win mark in consecutive seasons for the first time in program history with a win. ... The Buffs are coming off a 90-81 loss at Oregon on Thursday after allowing the Ducks to shoot 61.5 percent in the second half and out-rebound them 29-25 in the game. ... Tad Boyle (99-90) is seeking his 100th win as a head coach. ... Austin Dufault (1,003 points, 501 rebounds) became the 19th player in school history to reach 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in a career. ... The Beavers are coming off a 77-67 win over Utah that dropped the Utes' road record to 0-14. ... Jared Cunningham led the way with 17 points. ... The Beavers are 11-5 at Gill Coliseum this season.
KEY STAT: When Andre Roberson has been on the floor, 20.9 percent of Colorado's defensive possessions this season have ended with the 6-7 forward grabbing a rebound, making a steal or blocking a shot that leads to a rebound for a teammate.
COACHES: Tad Boyle is 43-24 in his second season at CU. Craig Robinson is 59-69 in his fourth season at Oregon State.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Colorado - G Nate Tomlinson, 6-3, Sr., 6.1 ppg, 3.3 apg; F Andre Roberson, 6-7, So., 11.1 ppg, 11.3 rpg; F Austin Dufault, 6-9, Sr., 11.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg; G Spencer Dinwiddie, 6-5, Fr., 10.7 ppg, 3.7 rpg; G Carlon Brown, 6-5, Sr., 12.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg. Oregon State - C Angus Brandt, 6-10, Jr., 9.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg; F Eric Moreland, 6-10, Fr., 4.8 ppg, 6.5 rpg; F Devon Collier, 6-8, So., 12.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg; G Jared Cunningham, 6-4, Jr., 18.3 ppg, 3.7 rpg; G Ahmad Starks, 5-9, So., 12.2 ppg, 2.7 apg.
SERIES: CU leads 7-2 but has a two-game losing streak in Corvallis (98-87 in 2004 and 74-69 in 2009).
UP NEXT: The Buffs will play in their first Pac-12 Tournament next Wednesday or Thursday at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles.
CU's reserves accounted for 17 points, five rebounds and three assists against the Ducks. Shane Harris-Tunks was 3-for-3 from the field, Askia Booker had nine points, and Jeremy Adams threw down an impressive dunk.
If the Buffs are forced to have to win four games in four nights in Los Angeles to earn an NCAA Tournament bid, Boyle will need a lot of chips to play with.
"All of the hard work is paying off for me now," said Harris-Tunks, who also gave the team some quality minutes during the 70-57 victory over Cal last Sunday. "For our program, getting this next win is a really big deal. It will give us 20 wins again. No one has done that twice in a row in the program's history.
"To make history like that is a big deal for everyone on the team."
Brown shot 27.9 percent and averaged 7.7 points in CU's previous six games leading up to this key road trip. The slump finally ended as the senior guard scored 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting against Oregon.
"It definitely felt good. I got my confidence back," Brown said. "The coaches have been telling me to just drive. Hopefully I can keep it up and have some momentum going into next week. The quote is that we play well when I play well."
CU has dominated the Beavers (16-13, 6-11) in Boulder, beating them 83-57 in the final installment of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series last season and 82-60 on Feb. 2.
However, Oregon State is 11-5 at home this season and coming off a momentum-building 77-67 victory over Utah.
"We needed that win," Beavers head coach Craig Robinson said at Thursday's post-game press conference. "That collective sigh you heard at the end of the game was all mine, and my staff's. It was a really good feeling."
The good news for the visitors, and perhaps for Robinson's future, is that the youthful home team will only honor one player, Kevin McShane (1.7 ppg), on "senior day" at Gill Arena.
The bad news for CU is junior guard Jared Cunningham (18.3 ppg, 2.7 apg), sophomore forward Devon Collier (12.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and freshman forward Eric Moreland (6.5 rpg, 1.7 bpg) are among the most physically gifted players in the conference.
"They're a very good team at home and they're capable. They're as talented as any team in our league," Boyle said. "They have great length and athleticism. They can shoot it. They play very loose and free at home with a lot of confidence. It's not going to be an easy game."
They rarely are on the road for the Buffs, who are 5-8 outside of Boulder this season but looking forward to making a run at the Staples Center.