Colorado hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game since beating Bob Knight and Indiana in the first round in 1997 only to lose to North Carolina and Dean Smith in their second game that year. Talk about luck of the draw.
The Buffs drew the Running Rebels this time around and coach Tad Boyle believes the Buffs desire to get up and down the court will make for a good game against an opponent known for the same style.
"I like where our team is right now mentally," Boyle said Sunday afternoon during a selection show party at his home. "I just think teams that win their conference tournaments, you'd much rather come home with that than a disappointing loss. You never know how teams are going to react. Going into the Pac-12 tournament, we had lost three of four, limping in. But these guys obviously have the resilience and the toughness and the mindset to flip that switch."
The Buffs had Sunday to recuperate from a four-day run in which they defeated Utah, Oregon, Cal and Arizona to capture their first Pac-12 Conference title. They will return to work Monday, but will focus more on correcting some of their mistakes before turning their attention to the game plan for UNLV on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Boyle said he doesn't believe there is much of an advantage for UNLV playing in a familiar building in The Pit in Albuquerque, home of fellow Mountain West Conference member New Mexico. However, the fact that Albuquerque is a mile above sea level could be a factor if the game is truly fast paced. Boyle is a firm believer that altitude takes a toll on opponents in the second halves of games in Boulder.
Boyle said he is very proud of his players for what they accomplished in Los Angeles, but there is more out there for them to achieve. He said there are several areas he will focus on this week in trying to make improvements.
"I'd like to see us be more consistent offensively in terms of execution," Boyle said. "I think we found our identity and got that back on the defensive end of the floor. That was obvious in the way we played. We've got to be more efficient on the offensive end of the floor. That last two games down in L.A. we didn't finish the first half well. We didn't finish the game very well against Arizona offensively."
Boyle said his team relishes the role of being an underdog. He said he and several of his players joked Sunday afternoon about how they were picked to finish 11th in the Pac-12 Conference preseason poll and earned a No. 11 seed in the South Region on Sunday.
"The one thing you don't want to do is you don't want to be a one and done," he said. "We're going to take the same approach going into Thursday that we had last Wednesday going to L.A."