Random Thoughts – Volume XVII – March 24, 2019

Buff Trivia Questions of the Week … CU men’s basketball and the national polls trivia time:

  • When was the last time CU was ranked in the national polls?;
  • What is the highest ranking the Buffs have achieved in the polls?
  • What was the longest run CU has had in the AP poll?

CU National champions! … just off by a year or two … 

When you think of the national championship in men’s basketball, thoughts naturally turn to March Madness and the Final Four.

But it wasn’t always that way …

Until the 1950’s, the National Invitational Tournament was the tournament to get into and win. Before television, getting to play in New York City before the national media meant something. Said Princeton and NBA star (and U.S. Senator) Bill Bradley:

In the 1940’s, when the NCAA tournament was less than 10 years old, the National Invitation Tournament, a saturnalia held in New York at Madison Square Garden by the Metropolitan Intercollegiate Basketball Association, was the most glamorous of the post-season tournaments and generally had the better teams. The winner of the National Invitation Tournament was regarded as more of a national champion than the actual, titular, national champion, or winner of the NCAA tournament.

Three of CU’s rivals have a claim to a national championship in basketball from the early years of the NCAA tournament:

— Oregon won the first NCAA national basketball championship, in 1939. That title represents the only national championship in either men’s basketball or football for either Oregon school;

— Stanford won’s its only national championship in basketball in 1942; and

— Utah won it’s only national championship in basketball in 1944.

(Hell, Wyoming won the national championship in 1943).

My beef?

Oregon, Stanford, and Utah won their NCAA titles … when it was the secondary tournament.

The University of Colorado, meanwhile, won the National Invitational Tournament in 1940.

From the CU media guide … The 1939-40 edition of the Buffaloes tallied one of the best records in school history, finishing the year at
17-4. The team, led by coach Forrest Cox, dominated the Mountain States Conference with a conference record of 11-1, the sole loss coming from Utah State 31-29. Colorado qualified for the 1940 NIT in New York City, beating DePaul 52-37 and Duquesne 51-40.
The Buffaloes then went on to participate in the NCAA Tournament, losing close games to Southern California (32-38) and Rice (60-56 OT). Colorado was the first team, and one of a select few, to play in both the NIT and NCAA tournaments in the same year.

So … even though Colorado won the more prestigious national tournament, which in the 1940’s was the NIT, the Buffs don’t have a claim to a national title.

Yet Oregon, Stanford and Utah, which won the then less prestigious NCAA tournament, get to remind each spring that they have a national basketball championship on their resumes.

The Buffs are thisclose to being one of a handful of national programs to have championships in both football and basketball (ten schools have that claim, including Stanford, Cal and UCLA from the Pac-12. Of those three schools, only UCLA’s run of basketball titles were posted after 1960).

Colorado was just off by a year or two …

Learfield Director’s Cup Standings … 

CU press releaseThe University of Colorado has scored more points than any school in the nation this winter in the Learfield Director’s Cup, and currently sits No. 7 after the first winter update was released this past Wednesday. 
 
Colorado moved up 13 spots from the final Fall standings released in December.  On the strength of a third place finish at the NCAA Ski Championships, earning 85 points, a 16th place finish at the Men’s Indoor Track & Field Championships (58.5 points) and a 33rd place finish at the Women’s Indoor Track & Field Championships (40.5 points), the Buffs have earned 184 points this winter.  CU is just ahead of TCU (177.5) and Florida (173.5) for the most points this winter.  Along with Skiing and Indoor Track & Field, the NCAA Rifle Championships were also included.  
 
The No. 7 ranking in the first winter update is the second highest mark in the last five years, with the Buffs coming in at No. 6 after the first winter update in 2016-17 and is just ahead of its eighth-place standing in 2014-15 at this point. 

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

Problem is, we know it’s not going to last.

Last year, Colorado finished 37th in the final Learfield Director’s Cup standings. Stanford won its 24th consecutive Cup (yes, 24th consecutive), while UCLA finished second and USC fourth.

The Buffs did pretty well in coming in 37th overall, considering that Colorado participates in just over the minimum number of sports required by the NCAA. Colorado doesn’t have water polo, gymnastics, swimming and diving, or wrestling (or hockey, or rowing, or beach volleyball … or bowling).

In the “Conference of Champions”, CU was good enough to finish 37th overall, but that was only good enough for 8th in the Pac-12.

Learfield Director’s Cup Standings (2017-18):

1. Stanford………………………………….. 1442.00
2. UCLA………………………………………. 1326.00
4. USC……………………………………….. 1147.00
20. California……………………………………. 830.25
24. Oregon……………………………………… 786.75
29. Washington………………………………… 693.25
31. Arizona State………………………………. 686.00
37. Colorado……………………………………. 591.50
51. Arizona……………………………………… 472.50
61. Oregon State………………………………. 383.00
62. Utah…………………………………………. 382.50
80. Washington State…………………………. 260.50

With the Pac-12 lagging far behind the rest of the Power-Five conferences in income, it will be some time (i.e., not in the foreseeable future) before Colorado can add any additional sports.

So, for now, we need to celebrate how well the CU cross-country, skiing and track teams are doing year-in and year-out to help Colorado do as well as it has …

Archive Games of the Week:

To help you get through the off-season, I thought I would bring back some memories. Over the next few months, we’ll look back over the 1989, 1994, and 1999 seasons … 30, 25, and 20 years ago.

Seems like only yesterday …

— 1989 – Game One … No. 14 Colorado 27, Texas 6 … Darian Hagan, thrust into the starting role when starter Sal Aunese was diagnosed with cancer, went for 75 yards on the first play of the season, setting up a rout of the Longhorns in Boulder …

— 1994 – Game One … No. 8 Colorado 48, Northeast Louisiana 13 … It took over a quarter for the Buffs to get on track, but eventually the Northeast Louisiana (now Louisiana-Monroe) succumbed as the Buffs launched one of the most memorable seasons in CU history …

— 1999 – Game One … Colorado State 41, No. 14 Colorado 14 … It was Gary Barnett’s first game as the CU head coach, and the “Return to Dominance” campaign was derailed early, as joyous Ram fans rioted at the end of the Rocky Mountain Showdown …

Buff Trivia Questions of the Week … CU men’s basketball and the national polls trivia time:

  • When was the last time CU was ranked in the national polls? January 13, 2014, when the Buffs were ranked No. 21
  • What is the highest ranking the Buffs have achieved in the polls? No. 6, on December 18, 1963
  • What was the longest run CU has had in the AP poll in one season? Eight weeks, in 1997

… Colorado has only been ranked in 34 polls in the history of the program … with eight of those weekly rankings in the 21st century …

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