Colorado has risen to relevance under coach Tad Boyle, who took over in 2010 and has led the Buffaloes to 20-plus wins eight times and the NCAA Tournament five times.
His success includes an unlikely domination of Southern California. The Buffs have beaten USC seven straight times and will look to make it eight in a row when they host the No. 16 Trojans on Thursday night in Boulder.
Colorado (12-4, 4-2 Pac-12) has a chance to beat a ranked opponent for the first time this season. The Buffaloes lost the first three of those opportunities and had a fourth, against Kansas on Dec. 21, canceled.
Colorado's seniors have never lost to the Trojans and don't want to start now. Evan Battey has taken particular joy in beating the Trojans because he grew up in Los Angeles.
"Any time you go and play against a hometown team like USC, right down the street from me, it's a great opportunity to just compete," Battey said. "I'm definitely going to miss playing them. I'm sorry I didn't get to play them at the Galen Center this year. It's coming to an end ... all the rivalries I had coming into my college career are coming to an end."
The Buffaloes are coming off a split of two road games last week. They fell to then-No. 6 Arizona, 76-55, on Jan. 13 but beat Arizona State, 75-57, two nights later.
Battey is second on the team in scoring (12.3 per game) and rebounding (4.5) while Jabari Walker (13.1 points, 8.5 rebounds) leads Colorado in both categories.
The Trojans (14-2, 4-2) have stumbled after starting the season 13-0 and reaching No. 5 in the poll. They suffered their first loss at Stanford on Jan. 11 and, after beating Oregon State at home on Jan. 13, they fell to Oregon two nights later.
USC played just one game between Dec. 18 and the loss to the Cardinal and rust could have been an issue. With the schedule being more consistent, it gives the Trojans a chance to find a rhythm again.
If the Buffaloes want to continue their winning streak against USC, they'll have to contain Chevez Goodwin. He has become a force in the middle and is averaging 13.0 points and 7.1 rebounds a game, second on the team in both categories.
He is in his second season with USC after transferring from Wofford and has settled in well. He provides another weapon for coach Andy Enfield alongside Isaiah Mobley, who leads the club in scoring (15.3) and rebounding (9.2).
"He's become just a complete basketball player," Enfield said of Goodwin. "We're very proud of him."
Mobley and Goodwin aren't the only ones Colorado has to worry about. Boogie Ellis (12.6) and Drew Peterson (11.1 points) also score in double figures. The altitude shouldn't be a problem for the deep Trojans, who have nine players averaging more than 10 minutes per game.
--Field Level Media