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March Madness

2014 NCAA Tournament Preview: (8) Colorado vs. (9) Pittsburgh

2014 NCAA Tournament: Colorado (8) vs. Pittsburgh (9)

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Colorado Buffaloes 23-11, 10-8

Unfortunately as the Buffaloes make their 13th NCAA Tournament appearance and third straight, they’re doing so shorthanded without their leading scorer and playmaker in Spencer Dinwiddie, who suffered a torn ACL on January 12. Before he went down, the Buffaloes were 16-2 with quality wins against Kansas and Oregon. Since his injury, they are 9-9; they’ve average 82 points a game on the year, but have only eclipsed the 80-point plateau five times without Dinwiddie. As good as Josh Scott (14.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg), Askia Booker (14 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.4 apg) and Xavier Johnson (12 ppg, 5.9 rpg) are, this team’s potential to make noise in March is drastically lower. The Buffaloes are at their best when they create and score off of turnovers. They average 9.6 steals a game and have the 10th best turnover margin in the country at +4.3. They played the ninth most difficult schedule in the country and are now accustomed to playing without Dinwiddie. Freshman guard/forward Tre’Shaun Fletcher recently made his return to the lineup to help provide some much needed depth after two months away due to a knee injury of his own. The Buffaloes have not won multiple games in the tournament since 1955 and without their full lineup available it’s going to be difficult to end that streak. It will take a serious offensive explosion over the opening weekend to do so.

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Pittsburgh Panthers 25-9, 11-7

Representing the ACC for the first time, the Panthers are in the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season and the 25th time in program history. They’re haven’t survived past the opening weekend since 2009 when they were led to the Elite Eight by DeJuan Blair and Sam Young. Senior guard Lamar Patterson is the star of this year’s team. He’s played more games than any other Panther and is going out on a strong note, averaging 17.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.4 assists. Senior big man Talib Zanna has become a real force as well, posting up 12.8 points and 8.8 rebounds a night. The Panthers finished in fifth place during the regular season, but made it to the tournament championship, where they were narrowly held off by sixth ranked Virginia 51-48. The Panthers are quite tough on the defensive end, where they only allowed 62 points a night while playing the 80th most difficult schedule in the country. They only went 2-7 against the RPI top 50, but take away their 15-point loss to Duke, the average margin of defeat in those losses was 2.6. Turnovers are key for the Panthers. They finished the year with a +1.7 turnover margin and a 17-2 mark when they turn it over less. They were just 6-5 when turning it over more.

Colorado Buffaloes 23-11, 10-8

Unfortunately as the Buffaloes make their 13th NCAA Tournament appearance and third straight, they’re doing so shorthanded without their leading scorer and playmaker in Spencer Dinwiddie, who suffered a torn ACL on January 12. Before he went down, the Buffaloes were 16-2 with quality wins against Kansas and Oregon. Since his injury, they are 9-9; they’ve average 82 points a game on the year, but have only eclipsed the 80-point plateau five times without Dinwiddie. As good as Josh Scott (14.1 ppg, 8.5 rpg), Askia Booker (14 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.4 apg) and Xavier Johnson (12 ppg, 5.9 rpg) are, this team’s potential to make noise in March is drastically lower. The Buffaloes are at their best when they create and score off of turnovers. They average 9.6 steals a game and have the 10th best turnover margin in the country at +4.3. They played the ninth most difficult schedule in the country and are now accustomed to playing without Dinwiddie. Freshman guard/forward Tre’Shaun Fletcher recently made his return to the lineup to help provide some much needed depth after two months away due to a knee injury of his own. The Buffaloes have not won multiple games in the tournament since 1955 and without their full lineup available it’s going to be difficult to end that streak. It will take a serious offensive explosion over the opening weekend to do so.

Yannis Koutroupis is Basketball Insiders' Managing Site Editor and Senior Writer. He has been covering the NBA and NCAA for seven years.

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