The Colorado Buffaloes weren’t expecting to play again after Thursday’s loss against eventual champ Arizona in the Pac-12 Conference tournament. But head coach Tad Boyle promised his team would be ready to go if that changed.
Whatever slim and fleeting chances the Buffs had of competing in the postseason came to an end Sunday evening, when the 32-team field for the NIT, released on the heels of the NCAA bracket, indeed did not include the Buffs, who finished Boyle’s eighth season at 17-15.
As expected, the Pac-12 Conference sent only three teams to the 68-team NCAA Tournament field, but it perhaps wasn’t the trio of teams most anticipated. Despite reaching the league championship game and finishing second during the regular season with an overall record of 23-11, USC was left out of the draw after consecutive appearances in 2016 and 2017.
USC was swept by UCLA during the regular season and also lost its only regular-season meetings against Arizona and Arizona State. During the regular season, the Trojans beat only one team, Western Athletic Conference tournament champion New Mexico State, which ultimately earned an NCAA tourney berth.
League champ Arizona received the No. 4 seed in the South Region and will play 12th-seeded Buffalo in Boise, Idaho on Thursday.
The final two Pac-12 teams reached the field narrowly, with both Arizona State and UCLA tabbed as 11th seeds set to play in the First Four games Tuesday and Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.
UCLA, which lost to Arizona in the Pac-12 semifinals, plays St. Bonaventure Tuesday at 7:10 p.m., with the winner advancing to face Florida, the sixth seed in the East Region.
Arizona State, which was eliminated in the first round of the Pac-12 tourney by the Buffs, takes on Syracuse at 7:10 p.m., Wednesday, with the winner facing TCU in Detroit on Friday.
USC received one of the No. 1 seeds to the 32-team NIT, which will feature five Pac-12 teams. Utah was awarded a No. 2 seed and will play at UC-Davis, while Oregon and Stanford received No. 3 seeds. Stanford will host BYU and the Ducks will host Rider.
Washington received a No. 5 seed and will play Boise State, which features Longmont High graduate Justinian Jessup.