The Colorado men's basketball team may or may not reach the NIT tournament.

What won't happen, however, is a return engagement in a third-tier postseason tournament like the College Basketball Invitational.

Earlier this week head coach Tad Boyle said his team gladly will accept an invitation to the NIT if the Buffs can play their way into the 32-team field. Although the Buffs played in the CBI three years ago, Boyle said if the NIT doesn't happen the Buffs instead will turn their focus toward getting ready for 2018-19.

"I just feel like our program is to the point where we're not going to do that," Boyle said. "Not that I don't think it would be good for this team and especially our young guys. But we're beyond that. I told myself after we played in that the last time that we weren't going to do it again."

The Buffs were coming off three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances when Boyle accepted an invite to the CBI at the end of the 2014-15 season, winning a home game against Gardner-Webb before ending a disappointing season with a loss at Seattle. Yet even with a young roster that might benefit from playing as many games as possible, the CBI isn't the sort of experience Boyle believes is worth repeating.

"I've thought about it. If there is any team I would consider it with, it would be this team," Boyle said. "But again, I kind of told myself after the last time that our standards would be the NCAA Tournament, and then if we weren't going to be in that the NIT would certainly be worthy. And not that those other tournaments aren't worthy. It's just for us and where our program is and what our standards are, I don't see us going that route."


Advertisement

Stopping McLaughlin

The Buffs expect to have their hands full Wednesday night with USC senior Jordan McLaughlin, who Boyle described as the best point guard his club has faced this season.

"He's one of the top three in the country in my mind," Boyle said. "I know the (Jalen) Brunson kid from Villanova is awfully special. There's some good ones. But Jordan McLaughlin, the way he controls the game and runs his team, his ability to score really on all three levels, and he's as good a passing point guard as I've seen in some time. He's really good.

"He's a guy who can score and pass, and he does both equally well. He's a problem. Our ball-screen defense is going to be critical this game because of what he can do and the problems he creates for you defensively."

McLaughlin enters Wednesday's game at CU ranked first in the Pac-12 Conference and third in the nation at 7.7 assists per game. McLaughlin is averaging 12.2 points per game, and he went 4-for-4 on 3-pointers while scoring a team-leading 20 points in the Trojans' home win against CU last month.

Senior day

Boyle said senior Tory Miller-Stewart will participate in the senior day festivities before the final home game Sunday against UCLA, but maintained that should not be taken as any indicator of what the 6-foot-9 forward is planning for his immediate future. Miller-Stewart played only six games before suffering a season-ending broken foot, and he is considering returning for a fifth season next year.

"He's the one guy who maybe has the option of being a senior again," Boyle said. "He could be the only guy to go through his senior ceremony twice. We'll see. But he came in with Dom (Collier). He came in with Josh (Repine)."

Melton gone

On Wednesday, USC guard De'Anthony Melton announced he is leaving the school amid a tumultuous year in which his name has been linked to the ongoing FBI college basketball corruption probe. Melton hasn't played all season after it was determined that a close family friend allegedly received improper monetary benefits. Melton, a 6-foot-4 guard, averaged 8.3 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 3.5 assists in all 36 games for USC last season as a freshman.

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07