NIWOT -- It hasn't quite been three years since Tad Boyle sat down in Andre Roberson's living room in San Antonio, Texas, hoping to land his very first recruit at Colorado.
Boyle loved Roberson's potential but didn't know the skinny and unheralded 6-7 forward would evolve into the Pac-12 defensive player of the year and lead the program to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances.
On Selection Sunday, Roberson was sitting in Boyle's living room enjoying the fruits of their labor once again.
The Buffs drew a No. 10 seed and will face No. 7 Illinois in the East Region on Friday in Austin, Texas. They will play at 2:40 p.m. on TNT.
"I'm really happy for Andre getting a chance to go back to Texas," Boyle said. "Austin is a great place and hopefully our fans can make it."
Boyle doesn't mind returning to Big 12 country. However, the former Kansas player was somewhat relieved to avoid the No. 8 vs. No. 9 draw (North Carolina vs. Villanova) in the South Region with the winner likely advancing to play the Jayhawks in Kansas City, Mo.
The Buffs, upset winners over UNLV as a No. 11 seed last year before getting eliminated by Baylor in Albuquerque, N.M., aren't just happy to get into the field of 68.
"Our goal is to make the Sweet 16," said Roberson, whose sister Arielle could be focusing on the same mission with the CU women's team at the NCAA Tournament in Boulder while Andre is competing in Austin. "We want to win at least one more game than last year."
The CU-Illinois winner will play the No. 2 Miami/No. 15 Pacific winner on Sunday.
The Illini (22-12) finished 8-10 in the bruising Big Ten but posted an impressive win at No. 1 Gonzaga during non-conference play.
"They're a very good team from one of the best leagues in the country, if not the best league in our country this year," Boyle said. "They beat Gonzaga at Gonzaga, I don't think anybody else did that this year. They're a quality basketball team and we've got our work cut out for us."
This is the first time in the 113-year history of the program that the Buffs (21-11) have made three consecutive postseason appearances.
CU won the Pac-12 Tournament and the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament a year ago and made a run to the NIT semifinals two years ago after being snubbed on Selection Sunday.
"I hope we can win a conference championship every year, unfortunately we didn't this year," sophomore shooting guard Askia Booker said. "But we got into the tournament and that's what matters at this point."
This is the 12th time the Buffs have participated in "The Big Dance" and the first time they have made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament in 50 years (1961-62 and 1962-63).
The Buffs are 10-13 in their NCAA Tournament history with two Finals Fours (1942 and 1955) before the field was significantly expanded.
"In the modern era it's the first back-to-back and we don't want it to be the last," Boyle said. "I think it's a great step forward for our program to get an at-large bid."
A strong non-conference schedule clearly helped CU, which only has one senior (Sabatino Chen) on the roster, avoid the possibility of painful exclusion like the 2010-11 team experienced.
"I'll be honest with you, when I looked at our schedule before the season started ... I was thinking 15 to 17 wins, somewhere in that neighborhood," Boyle said when asked if he expected his talented but inexperienced third CU team to get into the NCAA Tournament. "Less than that, I think we would have underachieved, over that I think we have overachieved given our youth and out schedule early."
The Buffs are 4-1 on neutral courts this season after winning the Charleston Classic in November, beating Oregon State in the opening round of the Pac-12 Tournament, and then losing to No. 18 Arizona in the quarterfinals on Thursday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.
Boyle, the only CU coach to eclipse 20 wins in each of his first three seasons, is the first coach since the legendary Sox Walseth to get the Buffs into the NCAA Tournament in consecutive seasons.
Roberson -- who has led the Buffs in rebounding, steals and blocks in each of his three seasons in Boulder -- returned from a viral illness and played well in Las Vegas, which certainly helped the argument for CU receiving one of the 37 at-large bids.
Now the dynamic coach/player duo returns to the big stage not far from where it all began when Boyle recruited Roberson shortly after taking the CU job in April 2010.
"When I sat down with coach the first time I met him, that's one thing he wanted to do was get this program known nationally and get it some respect," Roberson said. "I feel like we're doing a great job of doing that right now."
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