UCLA and Colorado have a number of things in common.
1. Underachievement. Colorado is not meeting preseason expectations. They have four losses the worst being to 12-4 Hawaii ranked 138 in BPI and 150 in Kenpom. They do not look like a top PAC 12 team as they were predicted to be preseason. Sound familiar? Both teams desperately need this game. Who wants it more?
2. A shoot first point guard. Like Bryce Alford, Colorado Point Guard Askia Booker leads Colorado in shot attempts, scoring, and assists. Statistically Booker is even worse than Bryce Alford shooting under 40%. Bryce has twice as many assists and slightly more turnovers. In their 5 losses Booker is 26-74 and more importantly 9 assists and 18 turnovers. In UCLA 5 losses, Bryce is 13-40 with 13 assists and 14 turnovers. Of course Booker plays defense but Booker also has shot more than Alford in those losses. The lack of good point guard who thinks his own offense first is part of the Colorado problem. Will Booker or Bryce shoot their teams out of the games?
3. Stronger inside than out. While Booker has an amazing 50 more shots than the next player, the strength may be inside. 6'10" Josh Scott and 6'9" Wesley Gordon both shoot over 55% and Scott leads the teams in rebounds and free throw attempts. Can Scott get Looney and Parker in foul trouble? Which team will have the discipline to play inside first?
4. A shooting guard who has ball handling troubles and shoots better from three than two. Isaac Hamilton has more turnovers than assists and shoots 41.6 from two and 41.9 from three. Colorado's Zavier Talton has one more assist than turnover and shoots a horrendous 30% from two and 40% from three. Which shooting guard will stick to what he does best, shooting threes?
5. UCLA ranks 190 in turnovers and Colorado ranks 130. UCLA's numbers are padded by good games against bad teams and the real numbers are much worse. Colorado does not have as many possessions per game and is scoring less. Both teams do not value possession. Who will do a better job holding on to the ball?
6. Both teams are better at home with only one loss at home. UCLA is 1-4 away from home as is Colorado. How much will Colorado's home court advantage matter?
Of course there are some big differences. Colorado tries to be a defense first team; UCLA tries to be an offensive first team. But this is really a battle between two disappointing teams desperately needing a win. The preview is not really about matchups but rather which team wants it more and which team will play to their strengths.
Actually the latter may be stated backwards. For example better questions may be related to which team will not play to their weaknesses. Will Booker shoot Colorado out of the game? Will Isaac Hamilton try to score on the move and remain a turnover machine?
UCLA needs to win this to stop the free fall and has more talent. Unfortunately, I think the odds are in Colorado favor as I do not have faith in UCLA playing smart.