An unintended consequence of Colorado fading from the chase for the Pac-12 Conference regular season title might make a mark on the Buffaloes’ schedule.
The less a makeup date against Arizona State will impact the league standings, the less likely it is that date will see the light of day.
As it stands, the Buffs have four scheduled games remaining in the regular season — the two-game trip through Oregon that begins late Thursday night against the Ducks (9 p.m. MT, ESPN2), and next week’s home dates against Pac-12 frontrunners USC and UCLA.
CU still has an outstanding makeup date against ASU that has yet to be rescheduled. But given the Sun Devils have six potential makeup dates to fill, while Oregon has five, the Buffs-ASU date is a matchup that could fall down the list of the Pac-12’s priorities.
“I think it’s up in the air right now, given Arizona State’s situation and how many games they have to make up” CU head coach Tad Boyle said. “We’ll see. I don’t know.”
Barring a late collapse by an Oregon team that finally is playing nearly at full strength after suffering through personnel issues all season, the Ducks likely will take precedence when it comes to rescheduling their five lost games. Almost all of them could have an impact on who ultimately claims the regular season title, with the Ducks still in need of rescheduling games against ASU, Arizona, USC, and two games against UCLA.
Working in the Buffs’ favor for getting their ASU date back on the ledger is that excluding the Sun Devils’ postponed date against Oregon, none of their other missing games (CU, Washington State, Washington, and two against Utah) include opponents also in need of makeup games against Oregon.
In that regard, ASU’s postponed date at CU may be given priority on the Sun Devils’ list of makeup dates if it helps bolster the Buffs’ NCAA Tournament credentials. On the other hand, if CU finds its Pac-12 and NCAA Tournament status in a solid place after the home games against USCU and UCLA, and some of ASU’s other postponed dates might help determine the cut line for first-round byes at the Pac-12 tournament, some of the Sun Devils’ other dates might be given greater priority.
“Everybody’s got their own interests at heart. Obviously we have Colorado’s interest at heart, and Arizona State has Arizona State’s interest at heart,” Boyle said “But at the end of the day, the league has the league has the league’s interest at heart. And the league’s interest is to qualify as many teams for the NCAA Tournament as we possibly can. When those decisions are made, those are going to be the overriding factors. And the problem that happens sometimes is the league’s interest may not be the same.”
If that ASU date is not rescheduled, the Buffs might face the unusual dilemma of having an 11-day layoff between the UCLA game on Feb. 27 and the start of the Pac-12 tournament on March 10. It will be a 12-day layoff if the Buffs earn a first-round bye for the league tournament in Las Vegas. That last week became free when the Buffs’ originally scheduled regular season finale on March 6 at Utah was moved up to Jan. 11 in anticipation of further postponements that have not yet occurred.
Of course, that scenario of an idle final week becomes a moot point if any of the four upcoming scheduled games gets postponed. Which is why Boyle isn’t ready to offer conjecture on what that sort of extended layoff might mean for the Buffs.
“I think it depends on your team,” Boyle said. “It depends on how you’re playing. It depends on your injury status. It depends on a lot of things. So I don’t think there’s a blanket answer to that. If you have two starters that are banged up that need a week to get their bodies rested and repaired, that week off is good. If you’re really healthy, you’re clicking on all cylinders, you’re playing great basketball, yeah, you want to play. That week off may not be good. It just depends.”