The eyes of the nation — at least those belonging to college basketball lovers — will be on the Colorado program and the Coors Events Center on Saturday when ESPN brings its GameDay show to town for the Buffs' game against No. 4 Arizona.

It wasn't so long ago the idea of this happening was a pipe dream. I mean a monkeys-will-build-a-rocket-ship-and-travel-to-Mars kind of pipe dream.

When ESPN announced it was planning to broadcast from Boulder for a day about three weeks ago, it reminded me of another day back in the summer of 2007 when former CU athletic director Mike Bohn and his senior associate AD Tom McGrath invited me to take a walk around the events center to show me their plans for the place and the basketball programs.

At the time the events center was a dull, gray, concrete relic. It was functional, but not the kind of place that made you think it could ever be home to a top-tier college basketball program. Remember when the rectangle court was positioned in the middle of the concrete oval floor creating uneven walking surfaces made even more treacherous by numerous exposed wires and cords for television and radio broadcasts?

McGrath, who had spent years working with USA Basketball, including the first few editions of the Dream Team in the Olympics, used to roll his eyes at how neglected the basketball programs had been here.

It has come a long way and so has the product on the court.


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It took numerous steps carried out over a series of years to get here and the job is by no means complete. CU still wouldn't be considered one of the Haves of the college game, but it is no longer cemented in with the Have-nots either.

Of course the biggest pieces to the puzzle were the $12 million spent on the practice facility addition several years ago, and, of course, the hiring of coach Tad Boyle.

So now, with it's fourth consecutive 20-win season secured and a third straight trip to the NCAA Tournament within reach, CU has arrived at a point where it's deserving of a visit from GameDay and the national spotlight for a day.

The snowball is rolling downhill now.

One of the next steps for the program is for Boyle to successfully recruit a McDonald's All-American, a one-and-done type of talent. A player like his counterpart in Saturday's game, Sean Miller, has in freshman Aaron Gordon.

Boyle is on cusp of that. He will bring the best recruit of his tenure to Boulder next fall in Denver East High School guard Dominique Collier. There is no doubt that the exposure CU gets Saturday will help Boyle and his assistants be granted entry to the living rooms of those next level players.

What would help those efforts even more is beating Miller and Gordon and the rest of the Wildcats.

Neither program is at full strength. The Buffs have overcome the loss of their best player, point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, to a season-ending injury. They're improving each game now that they have adapted to playing without him.

Arizona is still recovering from losing Brandon Ashley on Feb. 1 to a season-ending injury, though it has proven resilient as well.

If the Buffs are able to pull off the upset, it will be an opportunity for everyone who loves and supports the program, especially the C-Unit student section, to take another step in the building process and not rush the court.

Sure, the Wildcats are ranked No. 4 in the nation, but beating them wouldn't be anything new like beating Kansas was back in December. CU beat Arizona here last year. Actually, the Buffs beat Arizona in Tucson last year, too, except for the botched call by the Pac-12 officials who nullified Sabatino Chen's game-winning shot.

ESPN would probably love the footage of ecstatic Colorado fans pouring out of the stands in the refurbished events center onto the court to celebrate a win. But it's time for CU fans to expect to win games like this because there is every reason to believe that snowball Bohn and McGrath first began to pack together seven years ago is only going to continue to gain momentum.

Contact BuffZone.com Writer Kyle Ringo at ringok@dailycamera.com.