Despite finishing the season on a four-game losing streak and ending up the No. 6 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, Colorado still has the third-best odds to come out on top this week in Las Vegas according to the sportsbooks.
The Buffs, who face 11th-seeded Washington State on Wednesday night, were ranked for much of the season and in the mix for the Pac-12 regular-season title before going on their longest losing streak in more than three years. The skid also cost CU a first-round bye, given to the top four seeds in the conference tournament.
Colorado Pac-12 Tournament futures
The sportsbooks still like the Buffs’ chances though. The best odds on CU are at Bet365 (+375), while the longest are at FanDuel (+430).
There are a few reasons to think CU can win four straight and take home the title. For starters, Colorado is 4-0 in neutral site games this season. Not only did the Buffs beat No. 3 Dayton on a neutral floor, but they also won the MGM Main Event Tournament in November at T-Mobile Arena, site of the Pac-12 Tournament.
History also appears to be on CU’s side: Oregon won the title last year as the sixth seed and Colorado’s lone Pac-12 title came in 2012 when the Buffs were, you guessed it, the six seed. Plus, CU is the only Pac-12 team to win at least one game in the tournament every year since joining the conference in 2012.
What needs to change for CU
In order to get back to their winning ways the first thing the Buffs need to do is shore up their defense. Colorado was leading the conference in scoring defense, holding opponents to 64 points per game, before giving up an average of 73 per game during the losing streak.
The offense also bears some of the blame for the late season slide. Colorado was leading the Pac-12 in field-goal percentage, 3-point shooting and 3-pointers made before seeing all three numbers fall off in the past two weeks.
McKinley Wright and Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Tyler Bey are the Buffs’ top players, but D’Shawn Schwartz could be the X-factor. Schwartz was shooting .414 from deep before going cold (5-for-26) over the final six games of the season. If he can get dialed back in from behind the arc it will help the Buffs immensely.
Rest of the Pac-12 outlook
As for the rest of the conference, regular season champion Oregon is the prohibitive favorite. The best odds on the Ducks are at Bet365 (+175), while DraftKings and 888Sport have the longest at +250. The Ducks finished the season ranked No. 13 in the AP Poll.
Arizona, like Colorado, also missed out on a bye and is the No. 5 seed, but the Wildcats have the second-best odds. Bet365 has them at +300, while FanDuel, DraftKings and 888Sport all list them at +350.
Second-seeded UCLA rounds out the favorites. FanDuel has the longest odds on the Bruins at +750, while the best odds are +600 at both DraftKings and 888Sport.
As for the biggest underdogs? That would be California, Utah and Washington State. DraftKings and 888Sport both have the trio at +10000 to win the Pac-12 title.