CU basketball returns to top 25 for first time in nearly six years

25th-ranked Buffs get back to work following China trip

Lewis Geyer / Staff Photographer
Evan Battey and the Colorado Buffaloes are ranked 25th, their first national ranking in nearly six years.

Apparently, voters liked what they saw out of the Colorado Buffaloes during their season-opening win in China.

For the first time in nearly six years, Colorado’s name was listed among the top 25 teams in the nation when the weekly AP top 25 poll was released Monday morning. The Buffs came in at No. 25 for the program’s first ranking since the week of Jan. 13, 2014.

The Buffs unofficially were ranked 27th in the preseason poll after finishing second among the other teams receiving votes. CU opened its season with an 81-71 win against Arizona State in which the Buffs outscored the Sun Devils 22-12 over the final 10 minutes after ASU had rallied from a 17-point deficit into a 59-59 tie.

Only two teams dropped out of last week’s poll, with the Buffs replacing Virginia Commonwealth at No. 25. VCU dropped out despite a 2-0 start, as did Purdue, which had been 23rd but lost at home Saturday against Texas. Pac-12 rival Washington, which led the others receiving votes in the preseason poll, entered this week’s poll at No. 20 after defeating then-No. 16 Baylor in Alaska (Baylor dropped to No. 24). Arizona moved up two spots to No. 19 and Oregon moved up one spot to No. 14.

Oddly, CU actually dropped from 152 points in the preseason poll to 151 points this week.

The Buffs were ranked for six consecutive weeks during the 2013-14 season, peaking at No. 15 the week of Jan. 6 and dropping to No. 21 in the Jan. 13 poll. Roughly 12 hours before that Jan. 13 poll was released, however, guard Spencer Dinwiddie suffered the torn ACL that ended his season, and his CU career, at Washington. CU was never ranked during its 2015-16 NCAA Tournament season until finally ending that drought Monday.

The Buffs returned to campus Sunday afternoon, eight days after departing for the Pac-12’s annual game in China. There was a planned day off Monday to recover from the journey, and the Buffs tentatively were scheduled to reconvene for practice Tuesday morning to begin preparations for Saturday’s home opener against San Diego (8 p.m., Pac-12 Network).

CU intentionally set up its schedule to be somewhat slow following the China trip. After the San Diego game the Buffs host UC-Irvine on Nov. 18, which will be followed by another six-day pause before facing Wyoming on Nov. 24 in Las Vegas.

Before departing for China, Boyle said he wasn’t certain just how hard he would push the Buffs early in the week, citing uncharted territory in gauging how the players would recover from such a long, demanding road trip.

“I’ll try to get a feel. You don’t know what you don’t know,” Boyle said. “None of us have been to China. None of us have come back from China. We’ll definitely take Monday off. Guys will go to class and get back in the routine of school Monday. And Tuesday, I’m going to use as that day…maybe we get a workout in that day. But if our guys are really dragging and tired, we may take Wednesday off, practice Thursday, Friday, and play Saturday.

“Certainly playing on Saturday was by design. What we’re going to do at practice (this) week is going to really be determined by how our bodies feel.”