UC Irvine the latest addition to CU basketball schedule

Home date the first against Anteaters since 2005

Jeremy Papasso / Staff Photographer DAILY CAMERA
Evan Battey and the CU Buffaloes will host UC-Irvine this season, the first meeting between the teams since 2005.
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A nonconference schedule already shaping up to be an interesting one for the Colorado men’s basketball team just grew even more challenging. This time, Buffaloes fans will get to see this latest foe firsthand at the CU Events Center.

The latest addition to the 2019-20 nonconference schedule is UC Irvine, which will visit Boulder as part of CU’s early home slate. The Anteaters went 31-6 this past season and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament, upsetting Kansas State in the opening round before losing to Oregon.

The matchup arrives two weeks after the announcement of the Buffs’ home-and-home series against Kansas, a likely preseason top-five team CU will visit on Dec. 7 before hosting the Jayhawks in 2020-21. The Buffs’ first contest against UC Irvine since Dec. 17, 2005 will be one of CU’s two home games as part of the MGM Grand Resorts Main Event, which also will include two games against a pool of three teams — Clemson, TCU, and Wyoming — in Las Vegas.

The UC Irvine date also increases the Buffs’ confirmed nonconference opponents to nine out of 12, with the other Main Event home game still to be released and two other dates still pending.

CU will play a pair of other neutral-court games, facing Pac-12 rival Arizona State in a nonconference matchup in the league’s annual season-opening game in China. The Buffs also takes on Dayton in an NIT rematch Dec. 21 in Chicago. CU will host San Diego in the conclusion of a two-for-one agreement and visit state rival Colorado State.

With two spots still to be announced, the Buffs already have compiled a far more challenging nonconference schedule than last year, when a visit to San Diego counted as CU’s toughest early challenge. The schedule continues to set up CU to be well ahead of the curve in the Pac-12 Conference’s new scheduling standards, which will require member programs to compile nonconference schedules that boast a five-year trailing average of at least 175 in the NCAA’s NET rankings.

UC Irvine is coming off the best season in program history, as the Anteaters won the Big West Conference tournament for just the second time before notching the program’s first NCAA Tournament win. However, UC Irvine suffered a significant postseason setback when leading scorer Max Hazzard opted to leave the program as a graduate transfer, eventually landing at Arizona.

The exact dates and start times for CU’s nonconference schedule are expected to be released later this summer.