New nonconference scheduling standards approved for Pac-12 men’s basketball

CU Buffs’ 2018-19 slate didn’t meet new threshhold

Cliff Grassmick / Staff Photographer
Tad Boyle and the Colorado Buffaloes didn’t play a schedule in 2018-19 that the coach particularly praise, but under new Pac-12 guidelines teams must avoid scheduling struggling opponents.
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Tad Boyle wasn’t shy last fall in describing the challenges his Colorado men’s basketball team encountered while attempting to put together a competitive nonconference schedule for the 2018-19 season.

Going forward, tipping off with the sort of below-par nonconference slate the Buffaloes faced last season will be against Pac-12 Conference stipulations.

On Monday, the Pac-12 CEO Group comprised of school presidents and chancellors voted to approve new nonconference scheduling standards in the wake of the league receiving only three NCAA Tournament bids during each of the past two seasons — and with five of those entrants failing to survive the tournament’s first weekend.

The new standards will feature four requirements. First, each Pac-12 school must compile nonconference schedules in which the five-year aggregate of the opponents’ NET ranking must be at least 175. Pac-12 teams will be barred from scheduling road buy games and no longer can schedule non-Division I opponents. Additionally, the road games for Pac-12 teams must be scheduled against programs whose five-year NET average is at least 200.

Last year’s CU schedule, which was pieced together after Boyle said overtures to most potential power conference opponents to begin a home-and-home series were rebuffed, wouldn’t have been up to snuff for the Pac-12’s new standards. The average NET of the Buffs’ 12 nonconference foes was 205.4, with only two foes breaking the 175 mark that now stands as the average threshold — San Diego (98 NET) and Drake (132). The ledger also featured games against Illinois-Chicago (211), South Dakota (230), Portland (326), and a road tilt against Air Force, an intrastate matchup unlikely to resurface if Air Force remains around the 244 NET mark it produced last year.

In terms of the non-Division I schedule, CU has played just four early-season nonconference games against Division II foes during Boyle’s nine-year tenure (Western New Mexico in 2010, Fort Lewis in 2011 and 2015, and Fort Hays State in 2016).

While Boyle essentially has admitted last year’s slate wasn’t as strong as he planned, the Buffs already have taken measures to rectify that issue next season. Among the Buffs’ four confirmed nonconference opponents, the aggregate final NET ranking from last season is 105.8. That group includes Arizona State (62 NET), Dayton (70), San Diego (98), and Colorado State (193). CU plays ASU as a nonconference foe in the league’s annual game in China. The Buffs also are likely to play two games at the MGM Resorts Main Event in Las Vegas against a trio of teams set to include Clemson (45), TCU (47), and Wyoming (323).

Monday’s announcement arrives less than three weeks after the Pac-12 approved increasing the league slate from 18 games to 20 beginning with the 2020-21 season. That move will trim the nonconference slate from 12 games to 10.