A look at how the Colorado Buffaloes (19-9 overall, 8-7 and tied for sixth in the Pac-12 Conference), stack up in various NCAA tournament projections heading into the week. (All rankings/listings as of Monday afternoon unless otherwise noted).
NCAA RPI: 34th.
Ken Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings: 72nd.
Joe Lunardi, ESPN: 10th seed in Midwest Region vs. (7) South Carolina in first round.
Jerry Palm CBS Sports: Eighth seed in West Region vs. (9) Connecticut in first round.
Shelby Mast, USA Today: Ninth seed in Midwest Region vs. (8) Wisconsin in first round.
Reid Forgrave, FoxSports (through Feb. 19, prior to CU loss at UCLA): Eighth seed in West Region, vs. (9) Monmouth in first round.
William Scott, College Sports Madness: Eighth seed (unspecified region) vs. (9) Cincinnati in first round.
It almost is like that standard car accident analogy, one in which the scene and possible ramifications change almost daily.
It's difficult to not look, even if you don't really want to.
Given a choice, the Colorado Buffaloes would rather not study the daily updates regarding their possible postseason status. Particularly after the carnage of their second consecutive two-loss swing on the road.
Yet heading into the penultimate week of the regular season, a perusal of the latest NCAA tournament projections still shows the Buffs sitting in solid shape. Their status would receive a huge boost with a victory Wednesday against Arizona, one of the Pac-12 Conference's hottest teams, which jumped to No. 9 in the latest AP Top 25 poll.
"I'd be lying if to say I'm not aware of it," senior Josh Scott said. "Even when I'm watching college basketball, I saw some stat showing four teams that made the NCAA tournament with losing conference records. It's one of those things where we have three very tough games coming up, and there needs to be a sense of urgency about that.
"We've had ups and downs, but for the most part this team has been pretty solid about locking into the goals we have and being aware of where we stand."
Most prognosticators still have the Buffs squarely on the safe side of the tournament bubble, despite last week's ugly losses in Los Angeles.
CU begins the week ranked 34th in the NCAA's Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), and most of the national outlets that routinely cover college basketball list the Buffs as a projected No. 8 through No. 10 seed. That list includes ESPN (10th), CBS Sports (eighth) and USA Today (ninth).
Aiding the Buffs the most in their RPI was a win at home on Jan. 17 against Oregon, which currently is ranked 13th and boasts a gaudy RPI ranking of No. 4. A home win against Cal (No. 19 RPI) on Jan. 31 also helped smooth over lost opportunities for victories during nonconference play against nationally ranked foes Iowa State and SMU.
"I look at the RPI. I don't look at bracketology. I can't control that," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "You can control your RPI by winning the next game. That's really all you have control of — winning the next game. Or you can control it by losing the next game."
Of course, as Boyle routinely points out, nothing bolsters a team's NCAA tournament credentials like taking care of the game at hand. A win Wednesday against No. 9 Arizona (No. 25 RPI) would be a huge addition to CU's resume. Assuming the Buffs don't suffer a letdown in the home finale Sunday against Arizona State, so would a victory in the finale regular-season contest next week at Utah, which joined the Top 25 this week at No. 22 and boasts an RPI of No. 10.
"We've got a big team coming in, so we just have to move (from last week) and learn from our mistakes and look forward," forward Wesley Gordon said. "I stay away from it. Too much looking into it distracts you from the game."