Filling in the Blanks: The 2014-15 CU Hoops Schedule

We haven’t heard much about the Colorado Buffaloes basketball schedule of late, and its becoming more and more apparent that Sean Kearney, CU’s Director of Basketball Operations, will struggle to convince high major programs to take on this Colorado Buffaloes program within the confines of the Coors Event Center.

Tad Boyle and Co. are a combined 60-9 at home since arriving in Boulder prior to the 2010-11 season, and not many high majors are willing to volunteer themselves for a likely loss in the non-conference portion of the season.

Last year’s non-conference schedule included high-profile match-ups versus eventual NCAA Tournament teams Baylor, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Harvard, with the latter two in Boulder.  To date, we aren’t scheduled for a high level, nationally relevant opponent, in any location.  That needs to change.

Here’s where the schedule currently stands, and once we’ve laid out the details, we’ll try to predict where, when, and who will fill in the missing pieces.

November 17-18, 2014:  Tip-Off Marathon vs. Auburn

Colorado will take on Bruce Pearl and Auburn as a part of the ESPN Tip-Off Marathon, an event consisting of more than 24 hours of continuous basketball games starting on Monday, November 17 and ending the following day.  As of now, we do not have further details on which time slot we will own.  This is the first time the Buffs have participated in the event.

Regional Rivalries:

Colorado will continue annual rivalry games with Air Force, Colorado State, and Wyoming, with CSU and Air Force coming to Boulder this year, and the Buffs traveling up to Laramie.

Additionally, the Buffs have added a home game vs. regional opponent Northern Colorado for this upcoming season.  This will be the first time Tad Boyle has faced the program he left to come to Boulder.

At this time, we don’t have any confirmed dates for any of these match-ups, but we can assume they will be sometime in between the Tip-Off Marathon (Nov 17-18) and the Buffs traveling to Hawai’i for the Diamond Head Classic (Dec 22-25).

Georgia:

The Buffs will fulfill their obligation to make a return trip to Georgia after the Bulldogs came into Coors Event Center last year.  As of now, this is the only road trip the Buffs will make against a high-major opponent, and out of the mountain region.  The date is TBD, but you can expect the game to be scheduled sometime after Thanksgiving break and before the Buffs head out to Hawai’i for Christmas.

December 22-25, 2014:  Diamond Head Classic (exact schedule TBD at a later date)

Teams:  Colorado, DePaul, George Washington, Hawai’i, Loyola Marymount, Nebraska, Ohio, Wichita State.

As mentioned above, no schedule has been released yet, but you can make a general assumption that the four teams who made the NCAA Tournament last year (Colorado, George Washington, Nebraska, and Wichita State) will not face each other in the first round.

That rounds out what we know about the 2014-15 non-conference portion of the schedule.  So what’s left to fill?  Traditionally, teams play a 13 game non-conference schedule, we’ve identified nine opponents, which leaves four left to be announced.

Here’s my expectations for how the schedule will piece together:

  • A cupcake to start the season… this would act as a “warm-up” for the Tip-Off Marathon against an improved Auburn program.  You can expect the level of competition to be similar to the UT-Martin or Jackson St match-ups we had early in the season last year, and if this were to happen, the game would certainly be at home.
  • An additional home match-up vs. a cupcake coming off the Tip-Off Marathon.  As of now, Colorado doesn’t have an opponent on the schedule who finished below 180th in the RPI outside of regional rivals CSU, Air Force, and Northern Colorado.  You can expect them to round out the non-conference schedule with a few additional bunnies.
  • A home game vs. a western regional opponent.  Colorado has annually played non-conference games vs. teams like Fresno St, UCSB, Northern Arizona, CSU Bakersfield, Texas Southern, etc… It’s certainly possible this could be fulfilled through the bullets above but I separated them for argument’s sake here.
  • A high-profile nationally televised showdown.  It doesn’t matter much if this game is home, neutral court, or on the road, but it is fairly apparent this schedule is lacking a big time match-up.  If it takes leaving the friendly confines of Coors Event Center to do so, you make it happen and have them return in a future season.

The Pac-12 schedule exact dates have not been released yet, but we do know which weeks the match-ups will be.  Here’s the 2015 Pac-12 schedule:

  • Jan 2-4:  USC/UCLA
  • Jan 7-11: @ Utah
  • Jan 14-18: @ ASU/Arizona
  • Jan 21-25:  Wash/Wash St
  • Jan 28-Feb 1:  @ USC/UCLA
  • Feb 4-8: Utah
  • Feb 11-15: Cal/Stanford
  • Feb 18-22:  @ OSU/Oregon
  • Feb 25-Mar 1: Arizona/ASU
  • March 4-7: @ WSU/Wash

“I’m Coming Home”

For weeks, it seemed inevitable, but for that same stretch of agonizing ticking, it seemed impossible. You see, being from Cleveland teaches you a few things about sports…

How to be loyal… how to endure pain… but most of all, you get a repeat lesson on the cruelty of Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong, it will. That’s how Cleveland sports has molded my expectations over the past 27 years. Call it what it is, depressing, I certainly wouldn’t argue.

But one man gave me hope for the city, but up until recently, that man wasn’t a man at all, he was just a boy. A boy with expectations not even Atlas himself could shoulder. He made the city a promise, a promise he couldn’t keep. No one wins championships in Cleveland, especially when instead of Robin, the city sends you Larry Hughes.

He left Cleveland, and in his wake, the city burned. Not just his jerseys, but it’s hope, too.  Dan Gilbert promised Cleveland would win a title before the “cowardly betrayal of the city’s former hero”, but that rallying cry fell on deaf ears. Cleveland was without it’s King, and he had no son to carry on his reign. Away from home, he was forced to mature, grow, mold himself. Ultimately, he achieved what he’d left home to do, and that was win, much to Gilbert’s dismay.  People often forget when you’re great, that winning isn’t easy. It often separates the great from the best, and not even the best can do it alone.

In Cleveland, he didn’t know how to win, he’d never done it before. Most haven’t. In Miami, there was no other choice. He’d sacrificed it all, and guaranteed in front of millions that it was time. Four straight Finals appearances and two NBA titles. For most, a dream career, in the media’s eyes, failure. When you’re him, each word is taken literally, and 2/4 is “not three, not four, not five…”

As free agency loomed, the rumors began.  No matter how thick the smoke, I refused to acknowledge the fire.  If I had, it would have become real, and when it became real, I would have been devastated when it became a distant dream.  You know, the whole Murphy’s Law thing and all.  Remember, this is Cleveland, free agents aren’t exactly lining up to be there. Even so, somewhere buried deep inside, I had this feeling that this time, it was different. The local media was convinced, but the national media took a more conservative approach. The “decision” was announced, and then it didn’t happen. Minutes became hours, hours became days. Days became centuries, or so it felt.

And then it happened. A moment that I can’t explain, because simply put, I’ve never experienced it before. That boy that I’d worshiped growing up, once the pride of my city, once the hope for its future, was coming home. Except this time, he wasn’t a boy, he was a man. A man with a simple goal, to fulfill a promise.  A promise he once didn’t keep.