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Once they jet to Vegas, CU Buffs won’t return to Boulder until NCAA tourney run complete

Buffs move up to No. 23 in this week’s AP Top 25

BOULDER, CO - Jan. 30, 2021: ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Jabari Walker and the Colorado men’s basketball team will not return to campus until their NCAA Tournament run is over, head coach Tad Boyle told BuffZone on Monday.
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When the Colorado Buffaloes set out for Las Vegas, they still won’t know who they will play first at the Pac-12 Conference tournament. That won’t happen until the winner is decided late Wednesday night after a first-round matchup between Cal and Stanford.

If everything goes the Buffs’ way in the upcoming months, they won’t return to Boulder until April.

CU head coach Tad Boyle told BuffZone on Monday the plan for his squad is to remain in Las Vegas, regardless of the outcome of the conference tournament, until next week, when the Buffs will travel to Indiana for the all-Hoosier State NCAA Tournament.

As part of the NCAA Tournament COVID-19 testing protocols, all members of each team’s traveling party will be required to document seven consecutive negative tests before arriving in Indianapolis.

“We’ll be doing the same thing in Las Vegas that we’d be doing in Boulder. Which is resting, practicing, study hall, going to class,” Boyle said. “So the routine doesn’t change. It’s just a matter of where you are in your routine. For the (players), it’s no different. For the coaches, probably a little different because we’re away from our families.

“With all the testing protocols that we’re going to have to go through before we get to Indianapolis, in addition to once we get there, I think there’s more risk getting on a plane an additional time. There’s more risk in coming home and being around friends and family than there is staying together in Vegas.”

On Monday, the Buffs (20-7, 14-6 Pac-12) moved up one spot to No. 23 in the AP Top 25, collecting a season-high 209 points in this week’s vote. USC, the second seed for the Pac-12 tournament and a possible semifinal foe for the third-seeded Buffs, moved into the poll at No. 24. Oregon, which claimed the Pac-12 regular-season crown and the top seed in Vegas with a win on Sunday night at Oregon State, remained unranked as the second team among others receiving votes.

More pertinent to CU’s NCAA slotting, the Buffs begin the week at No. 12 in the NET rankings.

As for the extended road trip, as Boyle noted the need to keep his team as isolated as possible within CU’s own bubble has been part of the routine throughout the season. Like everything else, taking care of that detail simply becomes more important during the postseason.

“Who’s safer to be around than somebody you know is getting tested every day?” Boyle said. “My wife’s not getting tested every day. My son’s not getting tested every day. My assistant coaches’ families aren’t getting tested every day. Our players’ girlfriends aren’t getting tested every day. Hopefully they’re not hanging out with their girlfriends. But coming home to Boulder creates more risks than staying on the road. So we’re staying on the road.

“Whenever we’re done in Las Vegas, we’re going to stay there off the strip, and travel from Las Vegas to Indianapolis.”

The 23rd-ranked Buffs will play either Cal or Stanford in the late quarterfinal on Thursday night (9:30 p.m. MT, ESPN).

Notable

The Pac-12 is expecting to release its all-conference honors on Tuesday morning…The Buffs began Monday ranked 16th at KenPom.com…CU has never matched up against Stanford in its nine previous appearances in the Pac-12 tournament. The Buffs have faced Cal three times at the Pac-12 tourney, most recently with a victory in the first round in 2019.