NCAA Tournament Predictions: Colorado vs. UConn

Connecticut guard Jalen Adams (2) and forward Shonn Miller (32) celebrate after a score at the end of the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against Temple in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference men's tournament in Orlando, Fla., Saturday, March 12, 2016. Connecticut won 77-62. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

It’s March Madness, the greatest time of the year. Looking for some help with your bracket? Don’t know which teams to believe in, in this crazy college hoops season? We’ve got your back. We’re breaking down every first-round game in the field of 68, plus looking ahead at which teams will make the run to the Final Four.

Colorado forward Josh Scott (40) battles UCLA guard Jonah Bolden (43) as he drives to the basket during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)
Colorado forward Josh Scott is a lot to handle inside, and he could presesnt problems for UConn’s front line. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)

8. Colorado (22-11, 10-8/Pac-12)– The Buffaloes have one of the best players in the Pac-12 in 6-10 senior forward Josh Scott, who is a double-double machine and averages 16.1 points and 8.7 boards per game. 6-6 sophomore George King (13.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) can be hot and cold, but has gone off for 20-plus eight times this year, including in back to back games. Providence transfer Josh Fortune has really fit well in the Buffaloes’ sizable backcourt, averaging 10 points per game. This is a big, tough team that can grind you out and win games with its defense.

Colorado owns wins over Arizona, Oregon and Cal, and handled themselves well in the rugged Pac-12. The Buffs are one of the best rebounding teams in the nation, and that’s a huge advantage in this one because UConn does not rebound the ball well–ranking 152nd in the nation at 36 per.

KEY STATS:

42.4 rebounds per game (4th)

70.7 points allowed (148th)

76.0 points per game (105th)

With seconds left in the game, Cincinnati's Octavius Ellis (2) defends Connecticut's Shonn Miller (32) in Cincinnati's 58-57 victory in an NCAA college basketball game in Hartford, Conn., on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)
Tough big man Shonn Miller has been the Huskies’ best player this season. (AP Photo/Fred Beckham)

9. Connecticut (23-10, 11-7/American)–The Huskies were dead and buried after Cincinnati’s Kevin Jones buried a three in the third overtime of the first round of the AAC tournament on Thursday. UConn was literally 0.8 seconds away from the NIT. But then Jalen Adams waved off Daniel Hamilton, cashed a program-defining Hail Mary, and saved the Huskies’ season. As Barstool Sports’ El Presidente put it, “It’s March. And you’ve got to kill UConn 100 times before they die once in March.”

It truly is remarkable how many times the Huskies have been spurred on by miraculous events in March–from their jaw-dropping run through the Big East tournament and then the NCAA’s in 2011, to Amida Brimah’s ridiculous three point play against St. Joe’s, which led to a national championship run in 2014.

These Huskies have turned it on at the right time–thanks in large part to the freshman Adams, who just may have become the go-to-guy UConn had been desperately looking for all season. 6-7 sophomore guard Daniel Hamilton (12.5 ppg, 8.8 rpg) came on strong in the AAC tournament, and the Huskies looked dialed in on defense–led by 7-foot anchor Amida Brimah (6.9 ppg, 2.8 bpg) and hard-nosed guard Rodney Purvis up top. Shonn Miller (12.8 ppg) is tough inside, and has been the Huskies’ most consistent player this season.

This is an extremely talented team, and if UConn gets past Colorado, they’ll be a handful against Kansas in the second round. Don’t be afraid to pull the trigger and pick the Huskies in that one–if you believe in this group.

KEY STATS:

38.2% Opponents’ Field Goal Percentage (3rd)

36.5 Rebounds per game (152nd)

73.5 Points per game (169th)

PREDICTION: This is a tough matchup for UConn, as Colorado is tough on the glass and has the size to counter the Huskies inside. If Connecticut shows up and plays to its potential, they’ll win this game, and give Kansas a run for its money. But it’s all about which team shows up.

Other tournament games:

EAST:
Which teams can beat No. 1 North Carolina?
8. USC vs. 9. Providence
5. Indiana vs. 12. Chattanooga
4. Kentucky vs. 13. Stony Brook
6. Notre Dame vs. 11. Michigan/Tulsa
3. West Virginia vs. 14. Stephen F. Austin
7. Wisconsin vs. 10. Pittsburgh
2. Xavier vs. 15 Weber State

SOUTH:
Who can beat No. 1 Kansas?
8. Colorado vs. 9. UConn
5. Maryland vs. 12. South Dakota State
4. California vs. 13 Hawaii
6. Arizona vs. 11. Wichita State or Vanderbilt
3. Miami (FL) vs. 14. Buffalo
7. Iowa vs. 10. Temple
2. Villanova vs. 15. UNC Asheville

MIDWEST:
How far will No. 1 Virginia advance?
8. Texas Tech vs. 9. Butler
5. Purdue vs. 12. Arkansas-Little Rock
4. Iowa State vs. 13. Iona
6. Seton Hall vs. 11. Gonzaga
3. Utah vs. 14. Fresno State
7. Dayton vs. 10. Syracuse
2. Michigan State vs. 15. Middle Tennessee State

WEST:
Is No. 1 Oregon really that good?
8. St. Joseph’s vs. 9. Cincinnati
5. Baylor vs. 12. Yale
4. Duke vs. 13. UNC-Wilmington
6. Texas vs. 11. Northern Iowa
3. Texas A&M vs. 14. Green Bay
7. Oregon State vs. 10. VCU
2. Oklahoma vs 15. Cal St. Bakersfield

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