Two teams with their eyes on the big picture go head-to-head Sunday afternoon when No. 21 Colorado visits Stanford in a key Pac-12 game.
The Buffaloes (21-8, 10-6) fell one game off the pace atop the league as a result of their 76-62 upset loss at California on Thursday night.
Colorado's second straight loss put it in a position of needing some help if the Buffaloes are going to get back atop the conference in the final eight days of the regular season.
After the completion of their two-game stay in the San Francisco area on Sunday, the Buffaloes wrap up the Pac-12 regular season next Saturday at Utah.
Of course, Colorado needs to help itself, and could do that by beating Stanford for a second straight time. The Buffaloes used a 30-14 disparity in free-throw points to turn back the Cardinal 81-74 at home on Feb. 8.
That game was marred by a scary collision between Stanford star Oscar da Silva and Colorado's Evan Battey, with da Silva suffering what at the time appeared to be a serious head injury.
As da Silva was being taken to the locker room, Colorado standout McKinley Wright IV recalled the reaction of the players on the court.
"(Colorado) Coach (Tad) Boyle wanted me to call both teams together and say a prayer," Wright told reporters after the game. "We got together and (Cal) Coach (Jerod) Haase said what he had to say -- told us to keep playing hard -- and then I led the prayer and thanked God that he was OK and that it wasn't worse than what it was."
Da Silva did suffer a cut that required stitches and couldn't finish that game, but he didn't miss any others. He has rebounded to average 17.5 points in Stanford's last four outings, helping the Cardinal (19-9, 8-7) keep alive their postseason hopes.
A 20th win for the first time since 2015 would help Stanford's NCAA Tournament resume, and a championship in the upcoming conference tournament would assure a berth.
Haase has made it clear to his guys that each remains a possibility.
"The team knows where we are," he assured reporters this week. "We have opportunities, but the reality is we have to win some games."
The Cardinal did just that Wednesday night on their home court against Utah, recording a third straight win in a 70-62 victory behind 27 points from Tyrell Terry and 20 from da Silva.
They'll go for a fourth in a row Sunday in what could be the final home game of da Silva's college career.
The 6-foot-9 junior from Germany could make himself available for the NBA Draft after this season. He has put himself on the professional map by nearly doubling his scoring average from 9.5 points last season to his current 16.1.
Da Silva had only five points before suffering his injury at Colorado. The Buffaloes' Wright led all scorers in that game with 21.
The 6-foot junior guard, also eligible to jump to the NBA after this season, had a team-high 18 points in Thursday's loss at Cal.
--Field Level Media