Over the years, Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle sometimes has expressed mild frustration at the difficulty of enticing elite-level nonconference foes to come to Boulder.

It's an understandable dilemma. Even in down seasons, the Buffaloes rarely are among the dregs of their league. And in the cutthroat race for NCAA Tournament berths, rolling the dice by flying to altitude to play a quality opponent on their home floor is a far riskier endeavor than scheduling some directional team at home.

That changes Wednesday night for CU when No. 13 Xavier visits the Coors Events Center. While the Buffs have hosted plenty of highly-ranked teams in league play, Wednesday's game marks just the second time since 1997 that a ranked nonconference foe will hit the Coors Events Center floor.

The other occurred memorably three years ago, when CU posted a thrilling 75-72 win against No. 6 Kansas.

"I know (Xavier coach) Chris Mack and I've got a lot of respect for him," said Boyle, whose club returns the home-and-home set with a visit to Xavier next year. "You just put floaters out there, feelers out there. From Xavier's standpoint they've got some boosters out here and they've got some people that would like to see them play. They were willing to start a home-and-home at Colorado.

"We're in that cycle now where we have to start that home-and-home at home. Because once you get in that cycle it's hard to get out of it. BYU was here last year and we're returning it this year. We didn't want to go to Xavier and BYU in the same year, so we had to find someone that's willing to start at (CU), and Xavier was."


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Xavier can't be accused of skimping on its nonconference schedule, with two wins already against a Northern Iowa program that made headlines as giant-killers last year in addition to a victory against Clemson.

The Musketeers began a tough road swing Saturday by suffering their first loss of the season at Baylor, a result that dropped Xavier from No. 7 to 13 and allowed the undefeated, upstart Bears to climb to No. 4 in the latest AP top-25 poll. After playing the Buffs, Xavier returns home to take on another Pac-12 Conference foe in Utah.

It will be a tremendous opportunity for the Buffs to get a quality nonconference win under their belts following last week's home loss against Colorado State. While CU fell short in its chances against ranked nonconference foes like Iowa State and SMU a year ago, the Buffs also didn't suffer the sort of blemish the loss against CSU puts on their tourney credentials.

A win against a Musketeers squad that boasts three players averaging at least 15 points would go a long way toward erasing that deficit.

"It's going to be a heck of a challenge," Boyle said. "Nothing against Portland, but this is a little different animal than the Portland Pilots in terms of their personnel. Portland is well-coached. Xavier is well-coached and they've got some dudes who can rip your head off if you're not ready to play."

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