But I couldn't forsake the conference tournaments entirely.
Stanford had already won. St. Joe's and Syracuse had already lost. So I watched the Villanova-Providence game with half-interest, tuned in to root for Washington in the last three minutes of their game with UCLA, and then contemplated watching the Arizona game.
I was pretty sure Arizona would win, even though USC gives them trouble on a consistent basis. That Henry Bibby vs. Mike Bibby tension still persists.
When I realized the score was getting closer, though, I decided to watch the game after all. The Wildcats didn't play that well. When USC's leading scorer Desmon Farmer shoots 10% and the game is still up for grabs, something is amiss. As usual, it was Salim Stoudamire.
Having seen the ASU teams from the early 1990s that were shaving points, I have to wonder about the radical inconsistency in Stoudamire's game. Maybe he needs to mellow out in the manner of his cousin?
Seriously, the problem is a lot less dramatic. Stoudamire sulks the way I used to when playing miniature golf at age thirteen. And he only seems capable of dribbling with one hand.
As it turned out, of course, Hassan Adams, Channing Frye, and Mustafa Shakur took up enough slack for the Cats to win.
A funny thing happened along the way too: I realized I would be sad to see Arizona lose.
I always pull for the Pac-10 in non-conference games and the tournaments. But rooting for Arizona in conference play has not come easy. When USC beat them earlier this year, I was sort of glad to see them get a reality check.
In a season underscored by a loss to Oregon State and two losses to the Huskies, however, the Wildcats' arrogance -- and the arrogance of their whiny, red-clad, Republican fans -- recedes in importance.
Yes, I wanted them to beat USC. Yes, I leapt out of my chair when Shakur's game-winning shot dropped through the net.
I may feel a little sordid, but my preference is clear.
Not that preferring anyone over USC is much of an accomplishment.