With their season-ending exit from the Pac-12 Conference tournament now a full month into the background and spring break complete, the Colorado men’s basketball team already has begun focusing exclusively on the 2018-19 campaign.
That includes finalizing the nonconference portion of the Buffaloes’ schedule, a process that is in full swing. Once it’s complete, next season’s slate could very well be devoid of a familiar state rival.
This past season’s edition of the CU-Colorado State rivalry — the Buffs suffered a 72-63 road loss on Dec. 2 — marked the end of the games under contract between the regional foes. CU head coach Tad Boyle didn’t dismiss the possibility of the rivals squaring off for the 129th time next winter. Yet he stopped far short of assuring local basketball fans the state’s two biggest programs would meet again next season.
Myriad factors, from Boyle’s RPI concerns for his program to the ho-hum attendance figures from the recent rivalry games, could spell the end of a series that has been continuous for 27 seasons. Though CSU has won three of the past four games against CU, the Rams are facing a rebuild under recently-hired coach Niko Medved after a tumultuous 11-21 season.
“I don’t know if it’s going to be renewed or not. There’s going to be discussions,” Boyle said. “I’ve got to give it some serious thought. We’ve got games still to get for next year’s schedule, so we’ve still got work to do.”
When asked if he wanted to see the rivalry continue, Boyle replied: “In some form or fashion, yeah. I’m extremely disappointed that the last two games have not been sold out on either side. If we’re not going to sell out CSU, why are we playing them? And I’ve always got to be cognizant of RPI. That plays into it. We’ve got three road games set plus the Hawaii tournament. Away from home is set. We’ve got to get home games.”
Despite the loss at CSU, the Buffs finished with an RPI of 81. CSU finished at 232 after going 4-14 in the Mountain West Conference.
The Buffs’ road games in 2018-19 include return dates at New Mexico and San Diego, as well as a game at Air Force that will complete the teams’ four-game contract. CU also plays three games at the 10th annual Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu as part of an eight-team field that includes Rhode Island, TCU, St. Mary’s, UNLV, Indiana State, Charlotte, and Hawaii.
The Pac-12 reportedly is considering moving from an 18-game league schedule to 20 games, but such a change isn’t likely to be implemented until the 2019-20 season.
The Buffs have gone 4-4 against CSU during Boyle’s eight-season tenure. This past season’s game in Fort Collins at the 8,745-capacity Moby Arena drew just 5,217 fans. Attendance at the most recent game at CU’s Coors Events Center, which holds 11,064, was underwhelming as well, with 8,715 fans watching a 72-58 Buffs loss on Nov. 30, 2016.