The Colorado Buffaloes were on the cusp of being ranked at several points throughout this season only to stumble and stay in the category of best of the rest.
A sweep of the top two teams in the Pac-12 last week pushed Colorado (19-7, 13-6) into the Top 25. The Buffaloes are No. 24 in the polls released Monday.
Their first chance to live up to the billing comes against Arizona State on Thursday night in a makeup date for the game originally scheduled for February 4. The game was postponed due to COVID-19 protocols in the Sun Devils' program.
The Sun Devils (10-11, 7-8) are making noise with three straight victories. They hit Boulder rested as their game against Washington State on Monday was canceled due to COVID-19 issues with the Cougars.
Colorado has six conference losses and is assured one of the five first-round byes in the Pac-12 tournament next week. The new format was created due to Arizona imposing a postseason ban for 2021.
The Sun Devils could be riding a four-game winning streak if not for a late-game collapse at UCLA on Feb. 20. They quickly recovered to sweep Washington, then beat Washington State 77-74 in overtime on Saturday. Remy Martin won it for Arizona State when he drained a 3-pointer at the buzzer to cap off senior night.
Martin leads the team in scoring at 21.3 points a game. In 114 career games he has averaged 15.1 points a game, drawing praise from coach Bobby Hurley for his steady climb in four seasons.
"He's had a hell of a career and he's a pro prospect and he's got to get out there and start making money and be a pro." Hurley said. "Certainly we can have that conversation but it's been a great ride with him and he's meant so much to me and Arizona State. He's done everything he could do here."
Beating Arizona State begins with stopping Martin, who has scored 20 or more points in eight straight games.
The Buffaloes have a similar player in McKinley Wright IV, who plays his final game on CU's homecourt Thursday. Wright was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week after putting up impressive numbers last week. He had 15 points and 14 assists in the win over USC and followed it up with 26 points against the Bruins.
It's the third time this season he has won the honor.
"I've been telling you this for four years - when you've got a coaching staff like I do and teammates like I do that believe in you, it makes the game so much easier," he said.
It will take more than Wright for the Buffaloes to march into the Pac-12 tournament with a win on Thursday night.
Several members of the supporting cast stepped up to provide secondary scoring, including Jeriah Horne. Horne transferred to the Buffaloes this season and has averaged 11.5 points and 5.7 rebounds a game while switching from starting to a reserve role.
--Field Level Media