Parker Baruh, The Ralphie Report Buffnik, AllBuffs Ben Burrows, RumblinBuff Adam Butler, PacHoops Jason Gilligan, AllBuffs Ryan Koenigsberg, BuffStampede.com Eduardo Martinez, BuffPlaybook Basketball Writer Adam Munsterteiger, BuffStampede.com Publisher Scotch, AllBuffs Will Whelan, Assistant Editor BuffStampede.com Tyler Ziskin, BuffStampede.com / The Air Up There What CU player are you most excited about this season? Parker Baruh: Xavier Johnson. He's going to be critical for Colorado. He shot 43 percent from three last year and if he can do that again and improve down low, Colorado could be hard to stop. He showed last year at home against Arizona and Cal with games of 19 points and 9 rebounds and 18 points and 12 rebounds respectively that he can be a force for Colorado and I'm excited to see if he can improve on last year. Scotch: Josh Scott. At the public scrimmage a couple weeks ago Scott was noticeably bigger, and was the best player on the floor. The Buffs need a big year out of Scott if they're going to live up to expectations. Jason Gilligan: Spencer Dinwiddie - Everything is set for the Mayor, this is his year, this is his team, what will he actually make of it? He has had the tendency to defer to Ski at times and not take over games or situations when he should have, will that continue or will we see a Spencer that's on a mission and ready to make this team his own? Eduardo Martinez: Freshman forward Dustin Thomas. With four returning starters, Thomas has the chance to step in and be a contributor right away. Head Coach Tad Boyle has said that Thomas has been the most consistent of the true freshmen, so Thomas figures to play an important role as a first year player. His three point shooting should blend in well with the four returning starters and their style of play. Thomas has the potential to be a great floor spacer for Colorado, and he'll give the Buffaloes a viable threat from deep. Adam Butler: Xavier Johnson. Sure it’s easy to talk about Dinwiddie and all the things he’s going to do and capable of doing. That conversation becomes national. And Josh Scott is a tremendous piece that had a great freshman season. I bet he improves. Point guards and centers are the standard recipe for success and CU is set up well in that department. But what about those around them? That’s why I’m fascinated by XJ. He’s that dynamic force that can play all over the court and while I call him a force here briefly, the Buffs don’t need him to be a force. He can fill the gaps and make this machine whole. He’ll do the things other kids can’t and that makes the Buffs unique. Unique is good. Ben Burrows: I would’ve said Xavier Johnson prior to last Saturday’s early-morning, but I now have to say Josh Scott. The extra weight shows, and adds a frightening dimension to his game without giving up a bit of athleticism. The problem for him last season was his performance in Pac-12 play. He just wasn’t ready, especially physically, for the rigors of an 18-game slate in one of the toughest conferences in the land, and it showed as his averages dropped from 13/6 out of conference to 8/5 in all conference games. Now, with some real size on his bones, it’ll be a lot harder for the Jordan Bachynski’s of the world to push him around on defense, leaving him free to operate for the full campaign. Adam Munsterteiger: Wesley Gordon does not bring the same exact intangibles to the table that Andre Roberson brought, but he is an intangibles type of player. There are many players with defined roles on this Colorado basketball team and Gordon can do a good job of filling in some of the gaps. Will Whelan: I can’t wait to see how Josh Scott’s development in the offseason translates from practices to real games. Xavier Johnson, in my opinion, is setting up to have a break out year. You could name anyone on this team and have a really good argument, but I’m going with Askia Booker. It will be a storyline all season, as to how he adapts into, truly, being the team’s third scoring option. Ryan Koenigsberg: I'd say I'm most excited to see Wes Gordon in action, I've seen him make electrifying plays in practice for over a year now and It will be cool to see the Coors Events Center react to those plays when he finally gets to make one in a real game. Of course there are plenty of players for Buffs fans to be excited about, but Wes was the first one that came to my mind when I read this question. Buffnik: Mayor. He's going to have a Chauncey-esque season. But answering this as "anyone other than Mayor", I go with Jelly Scott a hair above XJ. While XJ's development from the wing will be huge, the team has a lot of pieces that can play out there. But we have one true post player, and that's Jelly. If the physical maturity and offseason work pay off, we are looking at a dominant force on the block. If he delivers that along with the dominant PG play we'll get from Mayor and the waves of athletes CU can throw at teams at the 2, 3 & 4... we're looking at a team that can match up with anyone in the nation. Tyler Ziskin: Josh Scott. He's the cog in the machine for the Buffs. If he can prove to be effective in the post and improve his rebounding, the interior issues of the Buffs become much less concerning. Throughout his freshmen campaign he was worn down by bigger opponents and lost his effectiveness, hopefully his additional weight will mitigate this issue. If he reaches his potential, he can be an 18 point/8 rebound per game type of player in the Pac-12. What CU game are you most looking forward to this season? AM: Whenever Arizona travels to the Coors Events Center going forward, that is the game I am looking most forward to covering. So this year, Feb. 22 is a game I have circled on my proverbial calendar. I realize this is a blanket statement but Wildcats fans are an obnoxious bunch. I admittedly had to fight the urge to be a fan in the press section during this past February’s “Valentine’s Day Massacre.” AB: Arizona @ Colorado, 2/22, with or without Gameday. See you there. WW: While the Buffs take on Kansas and Oklahoma State in the non-conference, as well as Arizona, Oregon and UCLA once Pac-12 play starts, but I am looking forward to CU taking on Colorado State more than any other game. A year ago, the Rams and first year coach Larry Eustachy were completely embarrassed in Boulder, and Dinwiddie specifically. Playing in Fort Collins is a dubious task for any visitor, but you can bet that the atmosphere will be especially rowdy for the Buffaloes. TZ: Kansas, and it's not even close. This will be the biggest atmosphere that the Coors Event Center has ever seen, and that's including the possible matchup with Arizona during Pac-12 play that could bring College Gameday to Boulder. I can't wait to be a part of that crowd, and make Kansas realize just how far we've come in a few short years. EM: The Kansas and Oklahoma State games are the easy answers here. I'm going to go with the Harvard game on November 24th here in Boulder. Harvard has a very talented team this year, and is the favorite to take home the Ivy League title. They could creep into the Top 25 poll often, and should be dancing once again come March. Adding to the intrigue is the return of seniors Brandyn Curry and Kyle Casey after their one year hiatus and how they integrate themselves into the rotation. This will be a very competitive game, Harvard is not a team to be taken lightly. Plus, this game will look very good on Colorado's resume come March. Buffnik: Assuming this doesn't include post-season, I've got to go with Baylor. I want that one badly out of the blocks to set the tone for the season and make the nation take notice. Let's roll those ****ers. BB: With me, there is only one: Kansas. I’ve been waiting for this since the day it was announced, and it would take an Act of God to keep me out of the CEC on December 7th. Beating Kansas means something, far more than now common-place victories over Arizona and Oregon. A win that night could set this program up for a leap into the next dimension of program growth. I dare you to point to another night on the calendar that offers that kind of opportunity. RK: For me it has to be the Arizona match up on senior night. Of course the KU game is a big time matchup and a chance for the Buffs to get revenge on for the many beat-downs they took at the hands of KU over the years, including last year. But the way I see the Pac-12 playing out this year, there could be a lot more on the line in Boulder on February 22nd. Senior night means there is a good chance that it is also Spencer Dinwiddie's last game in the Keg, and there is a distinct possibility that Boulder will play host to ESPN's College Gameday for that game. I did't know if there would ever be a more hyped game at the CEC than last year's "Valentines Day Massacre" but I think this one has the potential to be. PB: This seems obvious, but the Kansas game. The Coors Event Center is going to be electric and all the Buffs on this team will be itching for revenge after the embarrassment they endured in Lawrence last year. I'm not so sure if Colorado wins, but there's no way it's going to be a blowout like last year. Scotch: Kansas. By a wide margin. The Buffs need to finally get a win over the Hawks. JG: There are several, but if I have to pick one I'd say it's the Arizona home game. By that time we'll really know what this team is all about. CEC should be rocking, if ESPN has any common sense Game-Day will be there, so this is the chance to put CU in the minds of basketball fans and recruits across the country. What is the ultimate outcome of this season for the Buffs? RK: I think the Buffs make it to the championship game of the Pac-12 tournament in Vegas (It will never get old saying "in Vegas"), land a good seed in the big dance, and finally break through to the sweet 16. People will look back on this season as the year Tad Boyle started the transition from Colorado being a good basketball program, to Colorado being a great basketball program. Buffnik: Pac-12 regular season title with a good showing in the Pac-12 tourney netting us a 3-seed in the Dance. The Buffs cruise to the Elite 8 before bowing out. Mayor ends up as a lottery pick off the performance with XJ and Jelly having difficult decisions to make on whether to return for their junior season. Coach Pri gets hired as a head coach and Sean Kearney moves into a coaching position for next year's staff. TZ: The Buffs will put together a resume that places them somewhere between the 7-10 seed line in the NCAA Tournament, and hopefully, that result translates into another tournament win for Tad Boyle. I personally don't trust them enough to finish higher than 3rd/4th in the Pac-12 right now, which will comfortably place them in the field of 68.JG: NCAA tournament and 1 tournament victory. BB: Even given the youthful bench, a team returning four starters from a NCAA Tournament team needs to improve over the previous season. There can be no equivocation on that point. I expect at least 12 in-conference wins, and at least 11 from the non-conference slate. In short: a fourth-consecutive 20-win season and a third-straight trip to the NCAA Tournament. That may not sound like much of an improvement, but CU should see a first-round bye in the Pac-12 tournament, and a lower-half seed in the Dance. Both would be feathers added to an already extravagant cap. Scotch: 4th in the Pac-12 and a Sweet 16 appearance. The Buffs are deep, but they are also young. 6 players on the roster are redshirt or true freshman. There is a potential for one of the true freshman to redshirt, but that will still be nearly half the roster with no game experience at the college level. We should expect some growing pains. The good thing is Tad Boyle has his teams playing their best ball in March, and with how deep and talented this roster is the Buffs should have a deep postseason run in them, both in the Pac-12 and NCAA tournaments. WW: I have no doubt that the Buffs make the NCAA Tournament, and from there it’s anyone’s guess. I do think they finish top three in the Pac-12 and reach, at least, the Pac-12 Tournament semi-finals. PB: Colorado finishes fourth in the Pac-12 and makes the NCAA Tournament. They get a six seed and win their first game, but fail against the three seed and end another successful year under Tad Boyle. Spencer Dinwiddie becomes another first-round pick for the Buffaloes and the tandem of Xavier Johnson and Josh Scott has Colorado fans excited as they return for another season in Boulder. EM: Not only making the NCAA Tournament, but winning some games. Its too difficult to predict if Colorado will be a one-and-done, Sweet Sixteen or even Elite Eight team because that depends on matchups. But Colorado has the talent to do damage and win in the NCAA Tournament. With four returning starters and numerous underclassmen vying for playing time, Colorado's future looks very bright. Depth amongst the bigs and three point shooting are question marks going into the season, but if Colorado can overcome these concerns, they'll be a team to watch out for in March. AM: I see the Buffaloes finishing second in the Pac-12, earning a No. 7 seed then enjoying a victory in the first round of the NCAA tournament before bowing out in the second round. AB: I see the Buffaloes dancing and with a single digit seed. Tad’s once again scheduled top notch opponents which always bodes well in the eyes of the selection committee. What’s more, the conference is deeper and should rate higher giving every team – Buffs included – the opportunity to shine that resume. I could see Spencer shaking his performance against Illinois (1-8, 4 TOs, 0-5 3FG) and riding his swan song into the sweet sixteen.