True March Madness: Confusing CU a Risky Bet at Tournament Time

Written By Jon Humbert on 03/10/2022
Up-and-down CU begins Pac-12 Tournament play

Sometimes when we bet, we think we have it all figured out.

The can’t-miss wager that follows every pattern and locks in every algorithm.

We call up our favorite Colorado online sportsbook.

We’re so confident. It all clicks.

Then your team loses at home by 17 to Arizona State as a six-point favorite.

That’s how it’s been with the University of Colorado men’s basketball squad this season.

An inexplicable loss to ASU followed immediately by a 16-point immolation of second-ranked Arizona.

Nothing makes sense

Confounding losses, inconsistent play and yet somehow the No. 4 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament with 20 wins.

CU basketball 2021-22, everyone!

And that’s not at all what you want heading into tournament season. You want consistency with teams peaking at the right time.  

Last year was a perfect example.

CU made it to the Pac-12 championship game. But upstart Oregon State claimed the tourney title and went on an historic 12-seed Elite Eight run as one of three teams from the Pac-12 in the final octet. 

The Buffaloes rebounded from the loss and sent Patrick Ewing’s Georgetown team back to peddling bootleg Knicks jerseys outside Madison Square Garden

CU bettors must live in the now

So what do Colorado’s March Madness bettors make of this season’s Pac-12 tourney so far?

  • ASU did ASU things and let a 17-point lead evaporate against Stanford on a buzzer beating loss Wednesday night.
  • Washington got the better of Utah in a battle of middling teams.
  • And Oregon held serve with Civil War brother OSU and got the win. 

So it’s CU vs. Oregon on Thursday afternoon in a Las Vegas quarterfinal.

The Ducks were around 15-1 to win the conference tournament heading to Sin City. However, leading scorer Will Richardson is out with a non-COVID illness. 

Early Thursday consensus lines at Colorado sportsbooks had UO as a slim 1-point favorite vs. CU.

Oregon, though, has been tanking against the spread, going 3-8 in their last 11.

As for the game total, the Buffs and Ducks are on a combined 11-4 run to the over. 

They also traded wins in the home-and-home this year.

The Buffs prevailed in a tight 82-78 victory on Matt Knight Court on Jan. 25. A week or so later on Feb. 3, Dana Atman’s team was able to get its first-ever win (66-51) in Boulder. 

A weird Buffs year stayed weird

CU is around to win the Pac-12 tourney.

And even as the fourth seed, it’s an unlikely reality.

Yes, Colorado has more Pac-12 championship game appearances than first-round exits in their 10-year tourney history.

But despite the Buffs’ current 20-10 record, it’s — for all intents and purposes — NIT time.

That would help steer the state closer to another disappointing March.

A down (year) but CU not out

NIT berths have in some ways become a bit of a downer for fans in Boulder.

There have been more NCAA tournament appearances (5) under head coach Tad Boyle than there were in the 50 years before he arrived.

They’ve only failed to reach a postseason tournament once in 12 seasons (2018).

And yes yes, the CBI counts.

So win or lose against Oregon, the golden era of Buffs basketball will continue.

Expectations have come with success.

But for Boyle’s crew to really break through in the Pac-12 tourney, the Buffs will have to be far more consistent with March now here. 

Photo by AP / Andy Nelson
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Jon Humbert

Jon brings a well-rounded and unique Colorado native's perspective to the multi-sport wagering beat at PlayColorado. He is a communications and public relations strategist based in New York. An Emmy and Murrow award-winning investigative journalist, he’s worked in El Paso, Las Vegas, Seattle and Reno, Nevada.

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