The CU Buffs got invited to the NCAA Tournament as an 8-seed, taking on 9-seed Pitt Thursday.

Making school history Sunday by earning a berth in the NCAA Tournament for a third consecutive year, Colorado was seeded eighth in the South Regional and will open Thursday against 9th-seeded Pittsburgh at Orlando.

Colorado (23-11) players watched the televised "Selection Sunday" announcement at the home of coach Tad Boyle and erupted in cheers when the school was shown on the screen.

"When your name is called in the first 60 seconds (of the selection show), it's amazing," junior guard Askia Booker said. "Now it's time to get down to business."

The winner of the Colorado vs. Pittsburgh (25-9) game will advance to face either No. 1 seed Florida (32-2) or the Gators' first opponent (the winner of a play-in game between Albany and Mount St. Mary's of Maryland). The Buffs, if they beat Pitt, would play next on Saturday in Orlando.

"Getting the eighth seed shows there was respect for us and respect for our league," Boyle said.

Colorado drew a difficult region. Following first-seeded Florida in the South is No. 2 Kansas, No. 3 Syracuse and fourth-seeded UCLA.

"When Florida popped up, I wanted our name to pop up," Booker said. "If you think you're the best, you have to play the best."

In four years at Colorado, Boyle has guided the Buffs to three NCAA Tournament bids. In 2012 at Albuquerque, CU opened with a win over UNLV before losing to Baylor. Last year in Austin, Texas, the Buffs lost to Illinois in their opening game.

"Orlando is a good place to be going this time of year," Boyle said.

Colorado's only other back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament were in 1962 and 1963, and in 1954 and 1955.

Tom Kensler: tkensler@denverpost.com or twitter.com/tomkensler



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