This week and next week, the Colorado Buffaloes men's basketball team will be participating in the Las Vegas Classic. Let's take a look at what exactly is this tournament thing.
Like any mid- or low-tier mid-season college basketball tournament, this one has quite the funky layout. The Las Vegas Classic has an eight-team field that includes Colorado, Kent State, Penn State and SMU as host teams with Canisius, UL-Monroe, Nicholls State and Hampton as visiting teams. Those host and visiting team labels apply to the school before even getting to Las Vegas. As such, the Buffs will host Nicholls State and Hampton in consecutive nights starting Friday (both games start at 7:00 p.m. MST).
The nature of this tournament treats the visiting teams unfavorably. Having two games in three nights is hard enough for a team to play, even in the NBA, but the visiting teams have their two games at various locations. Hampton, for example, played SMU in Dallas last night and they'll have to travel to Boulder on Saturday. It certainly doesn't help that the Pirates have to face two very difficult opponents. Alas, such is life for a mid-major.
After Colorado plays Nicholls State and Hampton -- which should be relatively easy wins for the Buffs because the two are ranked by Ken Pomeroy 331st and 225th in the nation, respectively -- they'll head to Las Vegas for the real tournament. Awaiting at the Orleans Arena are the Nittany Lions of Penn State, they of a 7-3 record. If the Buffs beat their B1G foe, they'll face the winner of the SMU-Kent State semifinal. If the Buffaloes lose to their B1G foe, they'll face the loser of the SMU-Kent State semifinal.
The semifinal against Penn State will be next Tuesday and the final will be the day after. As a wise procrastinator, I'll wait until next week to preview Colorado's potential opponents. Until then, enjoy the snow, the tune-up games, and most all, Star Wars.