Colorado athletic director Rick George recently completed a strategic plan for his department which included some bold goals for some of its teams.

It's time to raise the bar immediately in men's basketball.

George's plan calls for the men's basketball team to win the regular season Pac-12 Conference championship by 2017. It ought to be one of two major goals for next season instead, along with advancing at least to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament.

George, coach Tad Boyle and even some of the program's fans might see those as unrealistic expectations. After all, this is a conference that produced three Sweet 16 teams this season in Arizona, Stanford and UCLA, with Arizona still alive in the Elite Eight this weekend. All three of those teams should have much of their rosters back next season with a few key losses.

Colorado gets its entire group of core contributors back next season with the possible exception of point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, whom it didn't have for more than half this season. I'm expecting Dinwiddie to leave CU for the NBA.

But having a full roster returning from an NCAA Tournament team isn't the only reason much more should be expected from the Buffs in the 2014-15 season.

The reality is, expectations have risen.

After three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, it's no longer enough simply to make the tournament each year, especially after one-and-done performances the past two years. The Buffs ought to be competing for the conference crown and playing for seeding in the tournament during the final month of the regular season.


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Boyle's team shouldn't be worried about bracketologists and bubbles in February next year or future years for that matter.

This is no longer a program that can plead poverty or complain about the level of support it receives from the school, the athletic department or its fan base.

The Buffs scratched and clawed and fought to get into the tournament this year after losing Dinwiddie in early January to a torn knee ligament. It was no small accomplishment and they deserve credit for making it happen.

On the flip side, their performance once they reached the tournament against Pittsburgh was flat out embarrassing.

Boyle hosted a small gathering at his Boulder home on the Sunday before the tournament to watch the selection show. After he learned his team was seeded No. 8 in the south region, I asked him if he thought his team would play well in the tournament or if there was a risk it might be satisfied just to have earned a spot after losing Dinwiddie.

Boyle was emphatic in saying he believed his players had greater aspirations than simply getting into the field. The only other time Boyle has been so wrong in his four years as coach of the Buffs was when he (and me and almost everyone else under the sun) believed Andre Roberson wouldn't be a first-round draft choice a year ago.

The Pittsburgh loss is first real black mark in Boyle's tenure. The Buffs were not prepared to play and it showed on the biggest stage with a lot of people watching. The 29-point loss was the worst in CU's brief NCAA Tournament history.

Sure, the Buffs were blown out by Arizona previously this season, but the Wildcats are a legitimate national title contender. Pittsburgh had a slightly worse resume than the Buffs in the eyes of the selection committee, which is why it was a No. 9 seed and the Buffs were No. 8.

The ugly way the season ended should stick in the gut of every returning player and coach. It should fuel the push for more next year, a push toward clearing that raised bar

Contact BuffZone.com Writer Kyle Ringo at ringok@dailycamera.com or on Twitter: @kyleringo.