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Though schedule crunch looms, stretch run features favorable matchups for CU Buffs

CU one of only four Pac-12 teams to play 13 league games

University of Colorado Boulder's KJ Simpson ...
Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer
Colorado guard KJ Simpson earned his second Pac-12 Conference Freshman of the Week honor this season. (Cliff Grassmick/Staff Photographer)

Colorado men’s basketball coach Tad Boyle is famously adverse to all things social media.

Contrary to what might be popular opinion, Boyle actually does have a Twitter account, but the last message from that profile was sent on July 27, 2019. And that was a retweet of a photo from ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, who happened to visit CU’s practice that day. One has to go back nine days prior to that, on July 18, 2019, to find the last tweet credited to the coach himself.

Boyle nonetheless brought up some of the social media noise his team attempted to block out late last week, as an ugly three-game losing streak pushed the Buffaloes’ NCAA Tournament hopes to the brink while compounding the frustration of a sudden rash of key injuries.

Boyle said his team took note of the social media beatdown endured by the CU football team during its struggles last fall. After the Buffs ended that losing streak with a win against Oregon State on Saturday, he said blocking out the noise was a challenge his team talked about prior to the 86-63 win.

“Trying to find that balance between a challenge and trying to make them understand they’re not as bad as they think they are, or maybe the world thinks they are,” Boyle said. “Social media, I’m not on it, but from everything I’ve gleaned, it hasn’t been real positive for our guys. Our football team went through that this year. We talked about it in the fall, like let’s not let us get into that same mindset where we’re letting it affect us. And I don’t know if it affected the football team or not, I just know they were getting beat up like crazy and we were too.

“You either have to shut it out or you have to accept the responsibility and the challenge that comes from playing at this level.”

While the Buffs indulged in a second consecutive off day on Monday before beginning preparations for Saturday’s home date against Utah (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network), they did so while saddled with a 6-7 conference record. It will be an uphill battle to land favorable seeding in the Pac-12 Conference tournament or even an NIT bid, but the Buffs at least are facing a much more favorable stretch run schedule than most of their league peers.

With seven regular-season games remaining, the Buffs will play five of them against the bottom four teams in the conference — at Oregon State, at Cal, home against Arizona State, and two against Utah. CU also begins the week as one of only four league teams that have played as many as 13 conference games. Seven Pac-12 teams have played just 10 or 11 conference games with four weeks remaining in the regular season.

That means that while the Buffs will dive into a schedule crunch at the end of this week — after Utah at home, they hit the road to face Oregon State, Cal and Stanford all within a week — CU nonetheless is scheduled to have a slower pace ahead of the Pac-12 tourney, with the final homestand against the Arizona schools followed by the one-game week at Utah to close the regular season.

“We’ve got two days off, and it’s the first time we’ve had that since the beginning of the season,” CU sophomore Jabari Walker said. “I think we’ll mentally prepare better for this road trip (after Utah). Now I know what to expect, just taking care of my body and not letting it get to me mentally.”