The Colorado Basketball Buffaloes released their schedule today after a long delay. All offseason, Tad Boyle has been openly frustrated with the scheduling process, remarking multiple times that teams recognize how much talent the Buffs have and wanting to shy away. The American conference team that pulled out of the deal late (I would bet SMU) is part of a larger trend that is encouraging and saddening for CU fans: Teams don’t want to play at CU.
Listen, we get it, other teams. Playing at altitude is tough. Playing in Boulder at altitude is tougher. Playing a Tad team in Boulder at altitude is even tougher still. That shouldn’t stop you from coming to the CU Events Center to play. Xavier did it (and lost), Kansas did it (and lost), so you can do it too!
Let’s get to the actual schedule. After an exhibition with Colorado School of Mines, they get Drake and Omaha at home. Drake is rebuilding after losing their coach to CSU (Niko Medved) and most of their leaders. Omaha gave CU a scare two years ago and might be able to do the same this year. They have punched above their weight class all over the country. A quick trip to the San Diego Toreos (on ESPNU, no less) got way less scary after they lost their head coach to some nasty allegations, and the annual Air Force game should provide no scares (Ryan Swan is still good). The Buffs then spend two weeks at home, playing Portland, CSU, South Dakota, and UIC. Portland under Terry Porter has been feisty, CSU has talent and a brand new coach, South Dakota had a great program under Craig Smith (who left for Utah State this offseason) and may cause a scare, and UIC (coached by former CU assistant Steve McClain) are athletic as hell. That four game stretch should tell us fans a lot about the consistency of this team. Colorado ends their nonconference schedule with a road trip to Albuquerque to New Mexico in The Pit that may be tougher than last year’s blowout. A nice Christmas trip to Hawaii to play the Diamond Head Classic is the perfect segue into conference play.
Overall, this non-con schedule should lead to plenty of wins for the Buffs. In fact, they may be able to escape unscathed. The slow ramp up to conference play may help this young Buffs team that struggles to win on the road, but the home slate leaves something to be desired.
The conference schedule follows the normal travel pairing pattern. Only two home games, against the Washington schools, fall during winter break, meaning the student section will be in attendance for the rest of the slate. Colorado hosts the Oregon schools without making a return trip, and they go to the Bay Area schools (Cal and Stanford) without hosting those schools. The Arizona game on February 17th is a Sunday night game, which should mean a rowdy Events Center. CU ends with three straight home games against the L.A. schools and Utah before the Pac-12 Championship.
This year, the only true juggernaut in the conference is Oregon. Everyone else is beatable, home or away (and Oregon may be, too). If Colorado can find a way to steal a few away wins in conference, they will be looking pretty for the NCAA Tournament. But with the weaker schedule overall, they will need more wins than most. Here’s hoping they find them.