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CU men’s basketball to play in 2019 MGM Resorts Main Event

Helen H. Richardson / THE DENVER POST
Colorado head men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle said the Buffs are geared up for a bit tougher of a nonconference schedule in 2019-20, and that appears evident in the addition of their name to the MGM Resorts Main Event tournament in November.

After coach Tad Boyle and his staff experienced one frustration after another in attempting to put together the 2018-19 nonconference schedule for the Colorado men’s basketball team, a good portion of next year’s schedule already is settled.

As the Buffs reconvened on Friday following a couple of days off, Boyle confirmed the Buffs will compete next season in the MGM Resorts Main Event in Las Vegas, a showcase that will include two home games likely against mid-major programs followed by two games at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas the week of Thanksgiving. The matchups and full roster of teams has yet to be finalized, but sources indicated three of the other programs scheduled to compete are Clemson, TCU and Wyoming.

The Buffs already are set to open the season against Arizona State in the Pac-12 Conference’s annual game in China, and last week CU announced it will play Dayton at the Chicago Legends showcase at the United Center on Dec. 21, 2019.

CU also has dates set at Colorado State and at home against San Diego per previous contractual agreements. Assuming the Pac-12 remains at an 18-game league schedule, and the long-rumored move to a 20-game conference schedule does not begin until at least 2020-21, the Buffs already have eight of their 12 nonconference games in place.

The Buffs played in the Las Vegas Classic in 2016 in a similar format, playing Nicholls and Hampton at home before facing Penn State and an 18th-ranked SMU team in Las Vegas.

“We’re going to have four neutral-court games next year against some really good teams — Dayton, Arizona State, and whoever we get in Vegas,” Boyle said. “Our schedule, we’re ramping it up next year with some neutral-court games. We’re still trying to get a home-and-home with a Power 5 school and we’ll see if we can do that. The nonconference schedule will be tougher next year in terms of the names. Next year, we’re probably upgrading our nonconference schedule.”

Prior to this season, Boyle told BuffZone.com that CU had reached out to every team in every major basketball conference about starting a home-and-home series but was unable to finalize any agreements. Unless the Buffs match up with TCU in the final round of the Diamond Head Classic next week in Hawaii, they will go the entire nonconference slate without playing a team from any of the major basketball conferences.

Next year’s schedule already includes an Atlantic-10 Conference foe in Dayton, two possible major-conference opponents in Las Vegas, and an extra date against Arizona State in China that will be played as a nonconference game. Since the Pac-12’s rotating schedule has the Sun Devils and Buffs matching up just once in 2019-20, and that at this early stage ASU projects to be stronger than any nonconference opponent on the Buffs’ schedule this year, Boyle was more open to using a familiar foe in a nonconference slot.

“That’s one of the reasons we did it. And this (China trip) will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our players,” said Boyle, who indicated the Buffs may play an exhibition game during the overseas trip as well. “We’re going to embrace it. The going to embrace the educational aspect of it, the travel part. It’s an opportunity to learn, grown, and obviously play against a really good Arizona State team.”

Pat Rooney: rooneyp@dailycamera.com or twitter.com/prooney07