“Coast to Coast Challenge” to ramp up Pac-12 basketball scheduling

CU Buffs will play TCU at inaugural event next year in Las Vegas

When asked about the challenges of putting together the annual nonconference schedule, Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle often laments the lack of a showcase event, such as the Big Ten-ACC Challenge, that automatically ties Pac-12 programs annually to a solid national foe.

That league shortcoming finally has been rectified.

During the Pac-12 men’s basketball media day in San Francisco Tuesday, commissioner Larry Scott announced the formation of the Pac-12 Coast to Coast Challenge, which in 2020 will pair three Pac-12 squads against teams from other power conferences at a showcase event in Las Vegas.

The Buffs will participate in the inaugural showcase next season in a matchup against TCU, which also is a potential opponent for CU next month in Vegas at the MGM Grand Resorts Main Event. Next year’s showcase also will feature Washington taking on Oklahoma and Oregon facing a Big 12 Conference foe still to be determined. The return games for those three schools are expected to be held at American Airlines Arena in Dallas in 2021.

Arizona, Arizona State, and USC will represent the Pac-12 in Vegas for the 2021 event, with those return dates expected to be held at a to-be-determined venue in New York in 2022.

With the Pac-12 moving to a 20-game league schedule in 2020-21 (up from 18), the addition of the Coast to Coast Challenge will further aid CU and its Pac-12 brethren in making sure their nonconference schedules are up to the league’s new standards. In May, the Pac-12 CEO group announced new nonconference scheduling requirements that includes maintaining a five-year aggregate of opponents’ NET rankings averaging no worse than 175.

CU’s nonconference schedule in 2018-19 would not have met that new standard, though the Buffs surely will come in under that mark in 2019-20 with a nonconference slate that includes Kansas, Arizona State, UC-Irvine, Iona, Dayton, and either Clemson or TCU.