Colorado left out of NCAA tournament
LONGMONT — The festive mood at Colorado coach Tad Boyle’s watch party Sunday quickly turned sullen after the Buffaloes were left out of the NCAA tournament.
Colorado was hoping to make the tournament for the first time since 2003. Instead, it will host Texas Southern in the NIT on Wednesday night.
Hardly what the team envisioned when Sunday began.
At 21-13 and with three wins over Kansas State, along with victories against Texas and Missouri, the Buffaloes figured to make the field.
But elation turned to devastation after the bracket was revealed.
Boyle, in his first year at Colorado, sat in a recliner in his living room, staring in disbelief at the television, the remote control dangling in his hand.
He hardly knew what to say.
“Shock,” Boyle said of his emotions. “In the back of your mind, you feel like your name is going to pop up. When it doesn’t, you’re extremely shocked and disappointed.”
His players were crestfallen as they sat in folding chairs in the middle of the room. They were the center of attention, the cameras trained on them.
Senior Cory Higgins bowed his head, staring at the floor, while sophomore scoring sensation Alec Burks simply squirmed in his seat.
So confident were the Buffaloes of ending their eight-year NCAA drought that Boyle had invited a host of people to his home for the team’s party.
Immediately after the Buffs was rebuffed, Boyle took his team to the one quiet place left in his house — the basement. The team stayed down there for quite some time, digesting their plight.
“I haven’t felt that way ever in my life,” Higgins said in a hushed voice as he grabbed his coat and headed for the door. “We have to get our heads back on straight.”
The Buffaloes were far from alone in their amazement at being excluded. Kansas coach Bill Self thought Colorado belonged in the field, especially given the way the team played down the stretch in its final season as part of the Big 12 before leaving for the Pac-10.