Paul Klee, who covered Illinois basketball for six-plus seasons before relocating to his native Denver in November (follow him on Twitter @Klee_Gazette), gives us his take on the Illini’s matchup against Colorado.
The state of Colorado, a basketball state, put two teams in the NCAA tournament for the second straight year. Then think about this: It’s the first time the Buffs have reached back-to-back NCAA tournaments since the 1960s.
Tad Boyle’s job at Colorado is similar to what John Groce faced at Illinois. Both had to change the culture and build confidence in the locker room. That’s what stands out to me about this game: Both programs have a rising star on the sideline.
Hopefully, by now, Illinois fans know what they have in Groce. What Boyle has done at Colorado will have him coaching Kansas some day. What Groce will do at Illinois will have him coaching ... kidding, only kidding.
The scouting report on the Buffs, courtesy of an opposing Pac-12 coach: Spencer Dinwiddie and Andre Roberson fuel the team, the Buffs are dangerous in transition and on offensive rebounds, play man-to-man defense and use a short bench.
For Illinois, this one is all about my guy, Brandon Paul. And not only his offense. If he commits to shutting down Dinwiddie, a terrific scorer, Illinois can survive the Buffs. But watch out for Ralphie. She’s got a mean streak.