The most anticipated basketball showdown in years at the CU Events Center will tip off at an inopportune time. Yet given the commitments already filling the calendar for the Colorado Buffaloes and Kansas Jayhawks, a weeknight, pre-Christmas matchup was the best date the former Big 12 Conference rivals could settle upon.
Last week, Kansas announced its nonconference schedule, with the return date for a home-and-home series with the Buffs slated for Tuesday, Dec. 22 at the CU Events Center. It isn’t the ideal time slot for two programs that were ranked when KU posted a home win against the Buffs last season. But with both squads committed to nonconference tournaments, as well as CU’s scheduling adjustments sparked by the Pac-12 Conference’s move to a 20-game league schedule, the late December, weeknight slot was one of the few available dates.
Kansas once again is expected to be a preseason Final Four candidate, and it will be the Jayhawks’ first visit to Boulder since Dec. 13, 2013 — a Buffs win immortalized by Askia Booker’s running 35-footer at the buzzer.
“A lot of that was on the KU end. When we first set that contract up, that was the date they had available,” Boyle said. “It’s not ideal. We’d rather have it earlier in December. But with us going to a 20-game league schedule this year, there’s a week in there that was off the market. That makes it even a little more difficult. You have fewer teams to get, but you also have fewer slots to get.”
The Buffs already have a full slate of Saturday games on tap for December, including the Saturday previous to the KU matchup on Dec. 19, when CU takes on TCU in Las Vegas as part of the inaugural Pac-12 Coast to Coast Challenge. The showcase at T-Mobile Arena also will feature Pac-12/Big 12 matchups between Washington and Oklahoma, with Oregon taking on a Big 12 team still to be determined. The lineup also includes a marquee women’s basketball showdown between Oregon and Baylor.
On Saturday, Dec. 5, the Buffs are slated to host Washington State as one of their two December league contests in the Pac-12’s new 20-game format. CU visits Arizona on Wednesday, Dec. 2 in the earliest conference opener in program history. The Buffs also are hosting Colorado State in a game likely to be held the weekend of Dec. 12, filling up the weekend December dates before the Jayhawks could be penciled in.
Boyle said the nonconference portion of CU’s schedule essentially is complete, with the Buffs awaiting the finalization of a home date against a lesser-major that will be part of the Fort Myers Tip-Off in November. As part of that tournament, CU will play two games in Florida against either South Florida, Wisconsin, or Butler. CU also will host Pepperdine as part of its nonconference schedule.
Boyle said the Pac-12’s move to a 20-game league schedule made compiling the nonconference schedule somewhat easier, but it also caused less flexibility. Hence the pre-Christmas, Tuesday night date against one of the top teams in the nation. Boyle also said that for the first time in recent memory, the Buffs will not be starting any new home-and-home series.
“When you’re in a tournament, and you’re going to get two or three games out of that, that takes two or three games off the schedule,” Boyle said. “You’re playing two more league games, that takes two more off. So yeah, there’s fewer moving parts. There’s less flexibility, but it was done a lot quicker this year than last year. We jumped on it a little bit quicker.
“I think the nonconference schedule, in terms of where our team is, it’s a good one.”