The Colorado Buffaloes have announced today that the basketball team has added another game to its schedule. On December 29th, the Buffs will play against the Iona Gaels at the CU Events Center.
The game against Iona will be between a neutral-court game against Dayton in Chicago (Dec. 21) and the Pac-12 opener against Oregon (Jan. 2) in Boulder. Having a fairly challenging home game between those crucial matchups will keep the Buffs fresh and sharp heading into conference play.
Iona isn’t great, but they’re solid. The Gaels finished the season just 17-16, but they won the Mid-Atlantic conference tournament and appeared in the NCAA Tournament as a 16-seed. They have a lot of returning seniors, so they should bring that experience to Boulder.
If there is a theme to Tad Boyle’s scheduling, it’s that the Buffs will be playing numerous team with Tournament experience. Before the Pac-12 season even starts, the Buffs will play five teams who made the 2019 field: Arizona State (non-con game), UC-Irvine, Kansas. Prairie View A&M and Iona. They also play Dayton and either TCU or Clemson on neutral courts, all of whom have NCAA Tournament aspirations in 2019-20.
Instead of scheduling to build their resume, it’s also clear that Boyle would rather test his team than pile up home wins. Colorado’s most challenging non-conference games are all away from home. They play Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse, then Arizona State in Shanghai, Wyoming and TCU/Clemson in Las Vegas, and Dayton in Chicago. If the Buffs do build their resume, it will be because they proved themselves in hostile or neutral settings.
“Why make the NCAA Tournament if you’re not prepared for it?” - Tad Boyle, probably
Should Colorado win this game against Iona, that does another win if the Buffs need quantity of wins in addition to quality. In my in-depth schedule breakdowns, I conservatively had CU at around 23 wins, give or take two. This would bump that win prediction by one, which could make a difference if CU is on the bubble.