Bad blood: Bears and Buffs meet again eight months after memorable NCAA tournament game

Kyle Ringo
The Dagger: College Basketball Blog

"Big-12 rejects."

Baylor basketball fans chanted those words at The Pit in Albuquerque in March, directing the insult toward Colorado fans near the end of the Bears' 80-63 victory over the Buffaloes in the round of 32 in the NCAA tournament.

Nearly eight months to the day removed from that game, the programs will square off again Friday in the second round of the Charleston Classic. Colorado won its first game in the tournament over Dayton on Thursday and Baylor followed with a win over Boston College.

Colorado players and coaches have been quietly hoping for a rematch with the Bears since the Charleston Classic bracket was set. After their first-round win, they found themselves rooting for the Bears in a tight first half against Boston College.

"We want Baylor . . . we want our revenge," sophomore Askia Booker said in a story published by CU's sports information staff after the Dayton game.

Both teams lost significant contributors when last season ended, but there are plenty of returning players on both sides, including Baylor guard Brady Heslip, who was, perhaps, most responsible for dispatching the Buffs last time around.

Heslip splashed nine 3-pointers in March against the Buffs. Baylor's win ended a magical two-week run for the Buffs, who won four games in Los Angeles to claim the Pac-12 tournament title and then beat UNLV in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

"I would love to see it," Buffs head coach Tad Boyle said before Baylor had beaten BC. "I think it would be a great opportunity for our guys to redeem themselves that were here last year and a chance for some of our new guys to prove themselves. Because they're obviously a pretty darn good basketball team."

The Buffs' failure to guard Heslip last time around and the Baylor fans having fun at CU's expense isn't where the bad blood began. It was just more fuel for the fire.

Baylor sports information staffers say Baylor fans chanting "Big 12 rejects" was simply a response to Colorado fans chanting "Pac-12 rejects" during Baylor's opening win in the tournament last year over South Dakota State at The Pit.

Colorado and Baylor were hardly rivals on the basketball court or the football field when they were both in the Big 12 Conference, but there have been hard feelings between the schools since 2010 when the Buffaloes announced they were bolting for the Pac-10 Conference.

Not long after Colorado announced its decision, rumors surfaced of a potential larger Pac-10 raid on the Big 12, including the West Coast league targeting Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech in addition to the Buffs.

Baylor began lobbying to be included in the move west instead of the Buffs. The Dallas Morning News even obtained emails from prominent Baylor booster and lobbyist Buddy Jones urging alumni and legislators to fight for Baylor to be included.

One part of one of those emails was particularly upsetting to Colorado officials and fans.

"Baylor is superior to Colorado academically," Jones wrote. "Baylor has athletic facilities superior to Colorado. Colorado doesn't participate in the number of sports that Baylor does. Baylor's overall record in all collegiate sports dwarfs that of Colorado."

It is with all that in the background that the Bears and Buffs meet again.

Kyle Ringo covers Colorado and the Pac-12 Conference for the Daily Camera in Boulder. Follow Kyle on Twitter @KyleRingo

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