Anyone want to play a team stocked with young talent at altitude in a venue where the hosts are known for knocking off top-notch opponents, even in down seasons?
From what Colorado basketball coach Tad Boyle and his staff experienced this summer while piecing together the 2018-19 schedule, that answer apparently is a resounding no.
While all the requisite contracts have been finalized CU has yet to release its 2018-19 men’s basketball nonconference schedule, and at this point it is likely to not be revealed until the Pac-12 Conference releases its full 2018-19 schedule, which could arrive next week.
The scheduling this year presented a unique challenge for Boyle, who is about to begin his ninth season at CU. The Buffs already had their nonconference road opponents set with return trips for home-and-home agreements, in addition to CU participating in the Diamond Head Classic in Hawaii in December. Given the up-and-coming Buffs are expected to challenge for an NCAA Tournament berth, and that CU needed to convince teams to come to Boulder, the combination proved to be a formidable and frustrating hurdle.
“It’s been the most difficult year of scheduling since we’ve been here,” Boyle said. “If it’s as difficult next year as it was this year, then maybe it’s a trend. But when you’re looking to start series, which we were trying to do, it’s a lot easier when you have the option of going there first. That’s a piece of negotiations that will help you maybe get a game. But that was a non-starter for us. We needed home games.
“The fact we had some really, really good wins with predominantly a young team, a great freshman class with Evan Battey sitting out … people know what you have and what you have coming back. It was a frustrating year when it comes to scheduling.”
Thanks to some of those opponents announcing their respective schedules, the pieces are falling into place for the Buffs.
CU will complete three different home-and-home agreements in 2018-19 with visits to San Diego, Air Force, and New Mexico. The Buffs will attempt to avenge last year’s home loss against San Diego on Tuesday, Nov. 20 for an 8 p.m. (MT) tipoff that will air on ESPNU. The Buffs visit Air Force later that week on Saturday, Nov. 24 for a 4 p.m. tipoff in a state rivalry matchup that will air on AT&T SportsNet. The New Mexico game will be played at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 11 and will air on ESPN2.
The Buffs also will play Indiana State in their opener of the Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 22 in Honolulu, with a game the following day against either UNLV or Hawaii. CU will play a third game at the showcase on Christmas against Rhode Island, Bucknell, Charlotte or TCU.
Colorado State also has released its 2018-19 schedule, and the annual rivalry showdown against the Buffs will take place on Saturday, Dec. 1 in Boulder, with the time and TV information still pending. CU hosts Portland on Nov. 28 in the completion of a two-for-one agreement that was on hiatus last year.
Perhaps of note are the teams that will not be Buffs’ nonconference schedule. That list includes state rivals Denver and Northern Colorado, both of which visited the CU Events Center last year. CU also does not play San Jose State, which will be in its second season under the leadership of former Buffs assistant Jean Prioleau.
Though the specific Pac-12 dates also are still pending, the league released its weekly pairings in July with CU opening on the road in Arizona while playing five of its first seven games away from home.
“Schedules are either good or bad in retrospect,” Boyle said. “It’s kind of like recruiting classes. It’s knowledge you know at the end of the year. You can schedule a game against a team that had a 100 RPI last year, but they might have a 245 RPI this year. Everybody looks at last year’s RPI, but whatever metric you’re going to use is in retrospect.”