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Colorado head coach Tad Boyle would tae a NIT bid for chance to keep "coaching these guys."
John Locher / Associated Press
Colorado head coach Tad Boyle would tae a NIT bid for chance to keep “coaching these guys.”

LAS VEGAS — There will be no end-of-season watch party for the Colorado Buffaloes this year, except perhaps behind closed doors. Yet that doesn’t mean the Buffs’ basketball season is over.

Late Thursday night, after CU was eliminated from the Pac-12 Conference tournament by No. 7 Arizona, head coach Tad Boyle wasn’t ready to start making travel plans for the National Invitation Tournament, the consolation prize for teams with winning records that fall short of making the cut for the Big Dance.

Nevertheless, most projections have the Buffs squarely within the 32-team NIT field, which will be announced live on ESPNU Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. MST.

“If we get the invite, we’ll take it,” Boyle said. “I’d love to keep coaching these guys. I just don’t know. We haven’t been in this arena since our first year here. And our first year here we were the last team out of the NCAA Tournament and we were the No. 1 seed in the NIT. But that won’t be the case this year. So much of it has to do with these smaller conference tournaments.”

Current NIT projections (yes, those exist) have the Buffs as a six or seven seed in the NIT, meaning they would play a first-round date on the road between Tuesday and Thursday.

As of Friday afternoon, one of the leading NIT forecasters at had the Buffs (19-14) listed as a No. 6 seed, with a first-round matchup at Indiana followed by a second-round date against either Texas A&M or Pac-12 rival Cal. The NIT Bracket Project put together by has CU as a No. 7 seed playing at Illinois, though that particular forecast has not been updated in almost a week.

“If we get another chance to play together, I think that would be awesome” CU senior Derrick White said. “It’s hard because it’s kind of out of our hands right now. So we just have to sit back and wait.”

As Boyle noted, the Buffs enjoyed a stirring run through the NIT at the end of his first season at CU in 2011, defeating Texas Southern, Cal, and Kent State before losing to Alabama in the semifinals at Madison Square Garden. That run helped set the stage for the three consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances that followed.

However, the Buffs notched all three of those NIT victories at home. If CU gets its NIT bid on Sunday, this time the Buffs will have to do the bulk of their damage on the road in short order, with the first three rounds of the tournament scheduled to conclude within an eight-day span before the New York-hosted Final Four. CU has gone 6-10 away from home this season.

The higher seed hosts each of the NIT games through the quarterfinals.

“I think this team could do some damage. There’s no doubt about it,” Boyle said. “I’d love to keep coaching them. I just don’t know and we won’t know until Sunday night. I’m not planning on it, but I’m sure hoping for it. I think we have enough talent to be playing in that thing. We’ve got to see where it shakes out.”

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