March Madness round-up: Checking in on the Colorado-based schools

Mar 22, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Colorado Buffaloes guard KJ Simpson (2)
Mar 22, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Colorado Buffaloes guard KJ Simpson (2) / Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

The two largest colleges in Colorado both played their way into the NCAA Tournament final field of 64. The Colorado State Rams dominated the Virginia Cavaliers on Tuesday night in Dayton, earning the 10 seed in the Midwest Region. 

The next night in Dayton, the Colorado Buffaloes won their own play-in game over Boise State, which earned them the 10 seed in the South Region. The Rams had a date set with the Texas Longhorns on Thursday, while the Buffs squared off with the Florida Gators on Friday.

Texas 56 - Colorado State 44

Fortunes changed on the opening day of the dance however, as Colorado State suffered a 56-44 defeat at the hands of the Longhorns. Texas led almost wire to wire and Colorado State never really made the game interesting. 

It’s a tough end to a very successful season in Fort Collins. The program has been on the rise and there’s no reason to let this tough loss diminish what the team has done. They should be back in the tournament soon.

Colorado 102 - Florida 100

The Buffs fared far better as they had one of the most exciting games of round one, toppling Florida 102-100 in dramatic fashion. The Gators tied the game on a three-pointer with 9 seconds left, before KJ Simpson drilled a baseline jumper that bounced off the rim multiple times before finally dropping with two seconds remaining.

The Colorado offense was impressive, as they scored the second most points of any team in round one. Only Alabama put up more with 109. But obviously, the defense can be better, as they allowed the third most points themselves.

Road to the Sweet 16

They’ll need to clean it up on that end if they hope to keep dancing. They’ll take on the two-seed Marquette Golden Eagles on Sunday at 10:10 MST. Marquette was on the ropes for much of their round one game against Western Kentucky but pulled away late to win by a comfortable margin.

The Big East Titans will be a stiff test for Colorado, but they’ve got the horses to match up and they’re playing some good basketball right now. 

They also have a pair of intriguing NBA prospects in Cody Williams, the younger brother of Jalen Williams of the Thunder, and Tristan Da Silva. Both players could be lottery picks in the upcoming draft and a run to the Sweet 16 - or beyond - would only boost their outlooks.