The season will continue. It was a stressful Selection Sunday, but we can take a breath now that the Colorado Buffaloes have been selected to the NIT. It was a great draw as the Buffs are a 4-seed and will play against Dayton. As the better seed, Colorado will host the game at the CU Events Center on Tuesday night.
Colorado makes the NIT after winning 11 of their final 13 games to finish 21-12. In this stretch, they played like they belonged in March — if not the NCAA Tournament, at least the NIT. They finished the regular season with eight wins in their final ten Pac-12 games, then beat Cal and Oregon State before falling in a close game to top-seeded Washington. In that second half of the season, Colorado displayed mental toughness and adaptiveness as they continued to fight no matter the opponent.
If they had missed the NIT — and there was a decent chance of it happening — it would have been because of their first 20 games. They had a frustrating non-conference schedule against an easy slate and started just 2-6 in Pac-12 play, all while playing like the young team they were.
Considering Colorado’s momentum, making the NIT is critical to their development. This team is going to be really good next season and this will give them big game experience in a tournament setting. Everything is building towards an NCAA Tournament appearance next season, and hopefully the year after, so playing in another tournament can only help.
Colorado has a good shot to advance in the NIT. Tad Boyle called his guys a “tournament team” because of the way they are built. As they have shown this past week, it doesn’t matter if shots are falling or if they can’t hold on to the ball — this team is going to play defense and rebound, and that’s enough to keep any game close. Because of how hard they fight, they only need a few made shots to beat anyone, and that plays well in tournaments.
We will break down the rest of the NIT, but for now, this is what Colorado’s region looks like:
1. Alabama Crimson Tide
8. Norfolk State Spartans
4. COLORADO Buffaloes
5. Dayton Flyers
3. Xavier Musketeers
6. Toledo Rockets
2. Texas Longhorns
7. South Dakota State Jack Rabbits
That matchup with Dayton is exactly what CU wants. For one, Colorado matches up fairly well as they slow and try to get to the rim, but more importantly, it’s McKinley Wright’s chance to show out against the team he originally committed to.
Stay tuned because it’s going to be a fun week. And if you can, show up on Tuesday and help make the CU Events Center the most supportive arena it can be.