Show Me My Opponent, 2020-21: Colorado

Three days ago, this game didn’t exist and Tennessee fans were all miserable together, watching the Tennessee football squad (supposedly still a thing?) lose their 15th game in 16 tries to hated rival Florida. Tennessee fans everywhere needed a win.

Three days ago, this game didn’t exist and Colorado fans were some of the happiest football fans on the planet. In this bizarre shortened COVID football year, the Buffaloes are 4-0 with wins over UCLA, Stanford, and Arizona. Colorado fans don’t really need a win, considering they live in one of the most beautiful places in America, but I needed a mirror section here so please bear with me.

Fast forward to 7:39 PM Eastern on Saturday night, and all was well again:

The Colorado Buffaloes, at least in the KenPom era, have firmly been a bottom-tier team in both of their conferences. Prior to Tad Boyle’s arrival, the Buffs had made just one NCAA Tournament in 13 seasons, an appearance where they immediately got stomped by Michigan State in the opening round. Boyle, a former Jerry Green assistant at Tennessee, took over Colorado in 2010-11 after four seasons building up the Northern Colorado program from 4-24 in 2006-07 to 25-8 by his final season. He’s legitimately very good at what he does.

From 2012 to 2016, Colorado made four out of five NCAA Tournaments, and seven times in Boyle’s ten seasons, they’ve won 20+ games. They would’ve made the 2020 NCAA Tournament had it happened, so you can reasonably count that. Inarguably, Boyle is the most successful Colorado coach they’ve had since Sox Walseth (260 wins in 20 seasons, a pair of Top 10 rankings before the 64-team NCAA Tournament existed) in the 1960s.

You would have a hard time telling this to someone who doesn’t understand that it’s quite hard to win at Colorado, though. The Rockies are not exactly a recruiting hotbed. Boyle does have a Top 100 recruit on this roster from Colorado Springs (D’Shawn Schwartz), but among Colorado’s top five players, he’s the only squad member from Colorado. Their best player is from Minnesota, and Boyle’s had to go as far as Georgia and Canada to put together this team.

While you probably didn’t know much about Colorado prior to Saturday, thanks to Tennessee not having played them since 1981, hopefully you’ll come out on the other side feeling a good amount of respect for what they do. It ain’t easy, and I’d imagine that Tennessee fans could probably find a lot to like in an underdog program that finds overlooked guys who battle on the boards and play quality defense.

If you’d like to skip ahead to a certain section, click below:

NEXT PAGE: Colorado’s offense

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