Colorado’s March Madness: 3 teams from the state selected for the NCAA tournaments. CU Buffs women join ‘Group of Death’

Jaylyn Sherrod
Amanda Loman/AP Photo
Colorado guard Jaylyn Sherrod (0) plays during an NCAA college basketball game against Oregon State Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, in Corvallis, Ore. Oregon State won 68-62.

Three Colorado college basketball teams have qualified for March Madness. Both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments start this week.

The state's most successful college basketball squad, the University of Colorado women's team, earned a fifth seed. They’ll play in what’s been dubbed the tournament's “Group of Death.” That's because their part of the bracket includes No. 2 ranked Iowa, led by player of the year Caitlin Clark, as well as defending champion LSU and powerhouses Kansas State and UCLA. 

And CU only adds to the region’s difficulty. The Buffs are coming off a Sweet 16 performance in last year’s tournament, where they lost to Clark and eventual runner-up Iowa. This year, their regular season record was 22-9, and it all started with a victory over LSU in the season opener.

From there, the CU women’s team had stronger performances, including a win over first-seeded USC and star guard Juju Watkins, close losses to UCLA, and an absolute 79-30 drubbing of Oregon in the first round of the last ever (for now) Pac-12 Tournament. The Buffs went on to lose in the quarterfinals of the conference tournament. The season also included disappointments, such as losses to Oregon State and Washington State.

The Buffs are led by star point guard Jaylyn Sherrod, who helped the team to its best start since 1992-93. 

“We’re always underdogs in our head. Nobody can tell us any different,” Sherrod told the Associated Press this season. “Success isn’t going to change our foundation or change our dynamic. We’re still that team that gets after you, that plays with a high energy.”

The 5-foot-7-inch senior from Birmingham, AL is averaging 13 points and nearly 5 assists per game. 

“If I’m not the most energetic, most passionate player on the floor, I’m not doing my job,” Sherrod said.

They face 12th-seeded Drake in the Round of 64 on Friday.

Colorado Deions Daughter Basketball
David Becker/AP Photo
Colorado players, from left, Ally Fitzgerald, Mikayla Johnson, and Shelomi Sanders react after a 3-point basket against Oregon State during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in the quarterfinals of the Pac-12 women's tournament, Thursday, March 2, 2023, in Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, both men's teams for CU and Colorado State University are part of the "First Four" in Dayton, Ohio. That means they must win their way into the traditional first round of 64 teams.

The CU men are returning to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2021 and do so after losing in Saturday’s Pac-12 Conference Championship game. And it's the Rams' second tournament appearance in three years.

CSU plays Tuesday night against Virginia at 7:10 p.m. The winner moves on to play Texas on Thursday. The CU men face Boise State on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. for the chance to play No. 7 seed Florida on Friday.

CPR’s Matt Moret and the AP’s Pat Graham contributed reporting.