I don't know how to feel about this. I mean, the NIT sure, I'd be OK with that, but the CBI? Looking at the field of teams, Colorado is the only Power Five school in it and one of two in SB Nation's preseason bracketology (Stony Brook is the other as an automatic, 15th-seeded bid). Oregon State decided their basketball team was too good for this postseason invitational and Colorado just throttled them.
I wasn't very excited about this, and that was before I found out about Dustin Thomas's departure and Askia Booker's decision to sit out. I have no idea what happened with Thomas and Booker's decision seems pretty reasonable, considering what he has done for the program, but their Colorado endings were far from picturesque. On the bright side, I guess we get the priviledge of watching what should be next year's most prominent lineup of Collier-Hopkins-Johnson-Gordon-Scott for at least another 40 minutes.
Colorado's first round matchup will be the Gardner-Webb ... checks google ... Runnin' Bulldogs from ... Boiling Springs, North Carolina. They're 20-14 with their latest game coming in a thrilling conference tournament loss to the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers, who would go on to be a
sacrificial lamb 16-seed matched up with Wisconsin. Their best player is Jerome Hill, a towering force down low averaging nearly 20 points and 10 rebounds per game. What's that? He's a 6'5", 210-pound power forward who's averaging five less rebounds per game in five games against Power Five and he has the shooting touch of a young JaVale McGee?
If and when Colorado edges out Gardner-Webb, either Pepperdine or Seattle will await them. A quick KenPom* checks tells us 106th-ranked Pepperdine isn't apocalyptically bad, but 243rd-ranked Seattle is atrocious. Pepperdine ranks in the top-100 tempo-adjusted defenses in the country, but they're fairly mediocre everywhere else. Pepperdine's best player is wing Stacy Davis, who was incredible for the Waves in close contests with BYU, Gonzaga and Arizona State. Moreover, Davis is an adept defender who could give Johnson and Hopkins some trouble. Seattle's best player is point guard Isiah Umipig who can fill it up very efficiently, all while being the emotional leader of the Redhawks squad. He can, however, be neutralized by a certain Xavier who specializes in shutting down these kinds of guards.
*All rankings are from KenPom.com
Beyond Pepperdine and Seattle lies Stony Brook, Mercer, Eastern Michigan and UL Monroe. A quick run through: Stony Brook lost out on the NCAA Tournament after an emotional Albany buzzer-beater; Mercer beat Duke in the Tourney last year; UL Monroe took Florida to overtime on the road earlier this year; and Eastern Michigan won at Michigan.
After that cluster of mediocrity, one of the eight teams on the other side of the bracket would face Colorado in the championship. Of those teams, UC Santa Barbara and Vermont are the highest ranked teams, and thusly most likely to beat the Buffs.
At the end of the season, it's incredibly disappointing to be writing about Colorado accepting a bid into a mid-major tournament in which they're far and away the best team out there. It's even more disappointing Boyle accepted a bid into a mid-major tournament when they're the odds-on favorite to win despite Booker and Thomas's absences.