Tad Boyle is in San Antonio alongside most of his brethren among college basketball coaches.
This year's edition of the Final Four features an interesting dynamic, with the tournament's Cinderella story (Loyola Chicago) and another didn't-think-they'd-be-there program (Michigan) vying for a spot in the championship game against one of the two remaining No. 1 seeds (Kansas and Villanova).
Boyle, the leader of the Colorado men's basketball team, also will have an opportunity to watch departing senior George King participate in the NABC all-star game Friday night. It is a rite of spring for Division I coaches across the country, a weekend to celebrate the sport and take in college basketball's biggest spectacle.
Boyle, of course, is a Kansas graduate despite his native Colorado roots. Asked if he will have a rooting interest when the national semifinals tipoff on Saturday, CU's coach politely deferred.
"I don't root when it comes to this," Boyle said. "My heart pulls for (Michigan coach) John Beilein and (Loyola coach) Porter Moser. I would love to see both those guys have a chance to win it. I don't have a rooting interest though. I just go as a fan to some degree and love to see some good basketball and love this weekend as a way to make our game better."
Loyola has grabbed the headlines as just the fourth No. 11 seed to reach the Final Four, with the Ramblers looking to become the first program in that group to punch a ticket to the national title game. From a coaching standpoint Beilein perhaps owns the Final Four field's biggest feel-good story. Now in his 26th season as a Division I head coach, Beilein led four different programs to the NCAA Tournament a total of 11 times prior to this season. This will mark his second Final Four appearance, with the Wolverines on the losing end of a 2013 championship game against Louisville in a result that has since been vacated by the NCAA.
As always, Boyle has observed the unfolding of the NCAA Tournament through the prism of what lessons can be gleaned for his program at CU. Texas Tech, which reached the Elite Eight before losing to Villanova, went 3-15 in the Big 12 Conference just three years ago. Kansas State, another Elite Eight entrant, was 5-13 in the Big 12 two years ago.
The Buffs, with a young and promising nucleus in a Pac-12 Conference that may not have any clear-cut favorites at the start of the 2018-19 season, already are in a more favorable situation than either of those programs were just a few short years ago.
"You've got two 'blue bloods' in Villanova and Kansas that have great traditions and have been there before," Boyle said. "With Michigan, I've got a lot of respect for John Beilein. All that's wrong with college basketball that we've seen come to light this year, you can look at John Beilein and see all that is right with college basketball. With Michigan, we can look at them and the way they have constantly gotten better since the start of the year.
"Loyola obviously is the feel-good story of the tournament. Porter Moser is a guy I've known a long time. Another guy that's easy to root for. They've caught lightning in a bottle. It's important for our players to see that if it can happen to Loyola Chicago, we can certainly make it happen at Colorado. It doesn't happen all the time, but when it happens you have to be ready for your opportunity."