When the Colorado men's basketball team lost its best player to a season-ending knee injury in January and proceeded to slump on the court, coach Tad Boyle brought his players together at his house in Boulder.

They ate and spent time talking and Boyle turned on the movie Seabiscuit. It's a feel-good story about a race horse and jockey and the team around them overcoming physical injuries and mental wounds to become legendary by winning when so many doubted them.

Boyle said he had no idea if the point he was trying to convey to his team through the movie ever sunk in until he was informed Sunday that several of his players had mentioned that "family night" and the movie during interviews after CU learned it will play Pittsburgh on Thursday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

"As a coach, you're constantly trying to throw stuff at your guys to get your message across," Boyle said. "Sometimes you don't know what they're listening to."

Boyle's point in showing his team one of his five favorite movies, of course, was that they needed to believe in themselves first and foremost in order to be able to compete at a high level after losing Spencer Dinwiddie for the season.

"I'm not really a horse guy, but I get the point," veteran guard Askia Booker said Sunday reflecting on the movie and that night. "It's just letting you know that you can regroup, come together and you can win. It's very possible. You just have to be mentally tough. That's what a lot of our guys are on this team. They're willing to do whatever it takes."


The Buffs eventually did recover from losing Dinwiddie. They went on to a 9-8 record in the 17 games they played without him and advanced to the semifinals of the Pac-12 Conference Tournament.

So there was Boyle and his team back in the family room in Boyle's house Sunday surrounded by family members, athletic department staffers, a few boosters and members of the media as they learned their NCAA Tournament fate.

There was no long wait through most of the selection show on CBS this year. The Buffs were one of the first teams announced. They reacted more like a team that had just ended a long tournament drought than one that was making its third consecutive appearance in March Madness. But that was because they have sat through all or most of the show each of the past three years, including once when they didn't get selected.

They were a shoo-in for the tournament Sunday, and the fact they ended up being seeded No. 8 in the South Regional as opposed to a No. 10 or 11 seed, demonstrates there was more belief in them all along than some in CU black and gold might have thought.

Less than 5 minutes after Colorado flashed on the flat screen television and the euphoria was still present, Boyle sat back in his chair with a smile and said, "That was awesome."

Coaches try to prepare for everything. Most of the time when they are surprised by something, it's a negative rather than a positive. Boyle experienced that back in January when he saw Dinwiddie crumple to the floor at Washington without being touched.

Now Boyle's challenge is preparing for a physical Pitt team that went 25-9 this season and 11-7 in the ACC. The Buffs are actually a slight favorite in the eyes of the selection committee because they are the eighth seed and the Panthers are ninth.

If CU can beat Pitt, it would more than likely face No. 1-ranked Florida, which earned the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament this year after going undefeated in SEC regular season and conference tournament games. The Gators have been to three straight Elite Eights. They are a juggernaut.

Boyle might need a second showing of the movie next Friday if the Buffs earn a game against the nation's top team. Perhaps he could simply show one key part when Seabiscuit races War Admiral, a mighty horse that was undefeated before encountering a team, including a horse, that believed in itself.

Contact BuffZone.com Writer Kyle Ringo at ringok@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/kyleringo.