There is no hiding from ambitions in 2019-20. The Colorado Buffaloes expect to make the NCAA Tournament this season. What was once a promising but inexperienced core is now a veteran team ready to step into contention. Tad Boyle knows what this team is capable of, so he crafted his non-conference schedule to test them and build a tournament resume.
Pomona-Pitzer (exhibition) — Oct. 26
This game doesn’t count for anything, but it will be fun to start the season against a really good D-III team. They also happen to have Jack Boyle, Tad’s son, on the team. I fully expect Tad to play the starters 40 minutes, have Tyler Bey defend Jack, and run up the score. It’s a teaching lesson for both his son and his team, to never assume life is more than cruelty.
Arizona State (Shanghai) — Nov. 8
This is the real opener for the Buffs and oh man is this going to be a fun game. Colorado will hope to knock off a talented Pac-12 rival (it is a non-con game). The Buffs are the better team, but ASU is still really good, as they return Remy Martin, Rob Edwards, Taeshon Cherry and Romello White. This will also test if these Buffs who previously struggled in early-season tournaments in Virginia and Hawaii.
San Diego — Nov. 16
San Diego is tough as hell and beat Colorado last year at the Jenny Craig Pavilion. This should be a win, but if there’s going to be a game that CU inexplicably drops at home, per tradition, this might it because of the glacial pace of the Toreros.
UC-Irvine — Nov. 18
Wyoming (Las Vegas) — Nov. 24
TCU/Clemson (Las Vegas) — Nov. 26
The Buffs have been invited to the Las Vegas International and may be the favorite to win. Their first game of the competition is arguably the toughest, even at home. The UC-Irvine Anteaters went 31-6 last year, beat Kansas State in the NCAA Tournament, and return most of their players. As far as games against Big West opponents go, this would be a solid resume-builder. Wyoming (in Las Vegas) should be an easier game, although CU has a penchant for struggling against bad teams in neutral settings. If CU makes the final, Clemson or TCU await. TCU is much scarier because of Jamie Dixon, the former Pitt coach who decimated the Buffs in the NCAA Tournament.
Sacramento State — Nov. 30
Loyola Marymount — Dec. 4
These should both be comfortable wins over middling teams. Colorado will inevitably blow one of these easy home wins, but it’s much more likely it’s against San Diego or UC-Irvine than these teams.
Kansas (Lawrence) — Dec. 7
This is the game of the year, quite possibly. Tad Boyle returns to his alma mater to test his team at the Allen Fieldhouse, one of the toughest venues in college sports. The Buffs may be undefeated at this point in the season, so winning at Kansas would be momentous for the program. The Jayhawks are obviously very talented and will likely be a preseason top 10 team, but they are facing serious NCAA violations that could doom Bill Self and distract the team.
Northern Iowa — Dec. 10
Colorado State (Fort Collins) — Dec. 13
Prairie View A&M — Dec. 19
These should all be straight-forward wins, even CSU. Tad Boyle may have been trolling when he scheduled Northern Iowa immediately after Kansas — shoutout to Ali Farokhmanesh — but the Panthers are more mediocre than good these days. The Rams are obviously going to fight hard against CU, but this is a bad team that has won 23 games in the last two seasons combined. The Buffs will win easily if they don’t play down to CSU’s level. Prairie View A&M made the NCAA Tournament last year as a 16-seed and return a bunch of players, but this shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Dayton (Chicago) — Dec. 21
Depending how you feel about Arizona State in Shanghai, this game against Dayton in Chicago might be CU’s second toughest of the non-con schedule. Colorado faced the Flyers in the first round of the 2019 NIT and it was a very tough win. Dayton is legitimately good and sophomore Obi Toppin is going to tear up the Atlantic-10 this season. Maybe Colorado was caught off guard by Dayton’s physical style, and they did improve once McKinley Wright, a former Dayton commit, refocused in the second half. This is a toss-up, but the Buffs could get a nice win over what should be a Tournament team.
The Buffs will face major tests on the road against Arizona State (Shanghai), Kansas (Lawrence) and Dayton (Chicago), as well as challenges against Wyoming (Las Vegas) Clemson/TCU (Las Vegas) and even Colorado State (Ft. Collins). They should sweep the home slate, but San Diego and UC-Irvine should not be underrated or overlooked.
The Buffs will most likely drop on of their road games, probably two, and possibly a home game. Finishing this tough non-conference 12-0 or 11-1 would be a major boon for their NCAA chances. Going 10-2 would be solid. Finishing anywhere like 9-3 or 8-4 wouldn’t be an outright disaster, but it would mean they would have a lot of work to do in the Pac-12.