Always challenged to convince NCAA Tournament-type teams to come to Boulder for nonconference games, Colorado head coach Tad Boyle is pleased with the early ledger the Buffs have put together for 2016-17.
The 13-game nonconference slate released late last week is highlighted by a Dec. 7 visit from Xavier. Ranked in the top 10 for most of last season, the Musketeers will be the most high-profile program to visit the Coors Events Center since Kansas traveled to Boulder in Dec. 2013.
Add to the mix two games against a group that includes Texas, Notre Dame, and Northwestern in the finale of the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, and the Buffs’ slate compares favorably to the nonconference schedule they played in 2015-16.
“Getting teams to come to Colorado where it won’t hurt their RPI is tricky and it’s expensive,” Boyle said. “It’s the hardest thing in our scheduling. That’s why I really appreciate Xavier. I appreciate KU a couple years ago. I appreciate BYU being willing to do it. People think, oh call up school X, they’ll play. But it doesn’t work like that.”
A home-and-home contract with Brigham Young will be completed with CU’s visit on Dec. 10. The Buffs also travel to Portland, which returns to Boulder in 2017-18 in a two-for-one deal with CU, and Air Force, which marks the second of a four-game contract between the programs.
The top games on CU’s nonconference slate last season were neutral-court contests against Iowa State and SMU. The final two games in the Legends Classic and the home date against Xavier should serve as equal replacements.
“It’s a heck of a schedule, and the Barclays Center will be tough,” Boyle said. “Northwestern is a team that’s knocking on the door of the NCAA Tournament. The other two are legit NCAA Tournament teams. As I look at it, it’s going to test us there’s no doubt. If we handle it and win the games we’re supposed to win, it will put us in good position as we go into league play.”
Boyle had hoped to fill an open date on Dec. 17 with a program from Colorado, but scheduling conflicts with in-state schools forced the Buffs to look to Fort Hays State.