We survived. Now it’s time to advance.

How did you spend Selection Sunday? I didn’t end up watching the show, not out of bitterness or depression, but because I simply found something better to do. I calmly watched for the brackets to be released online and went on with my day.

With the Arizona Wildcats’ 25-year NCAA basketball tournament streak officially and finally in the rearview mirror, now is the time to move on. But how?

Casually watching isn’t the same. You’re supposed to be emotionally involved. They don’t call it March Mild-Interest. How do we handle the Madness without Arizona?

I’m here to help.

I call it Watching An NCAA Tournament Without Your Team In It For The First Time Since The World Was Young. (Look for it in the self-help section of your local bookstore. Probably in the the “For Dummies” section.)

Borrow another team.
Did your spouse grow up rooting for Wisconsin? Do you have an uncle who went to Texas A&M? Does your neighbor’s landscaper own a Gonzaga t-shirt? Jump on the bandwagon for a couple weeks. What your team doesn’t know won’t hurt it.

Invest heavily in pools.
Lacking an emotional connection to this tournament? Buy one! If you can get to the championship game with a chance to win the big money I guarantee you’ll watch the game with some passion. And this might just be the year you pull it off.

Look at it this way: For the first time since the advent of the office pool you can fill out a bracket without bias. This year you won’t feel ashamed because you picked your favorite team to lose in the first round. You won’t talk yourself into predicting a Final Four run just because “I believe in my guys.” You don’t care who wins it all. You just want to be the person who picks them.



I know cash can’t make up for the pain of the Cats missing the tournament but, as the great philosopher Al Yankovic once said, “If money can’t buy happiness I guess I’ll have to rent it.” Hit the pool!

Complain about tournament expansion.
Even though the UA would have made a field of 96 expanding the tournament is still a horrible idea. Is there anyone who really supports the concept besides the coaches whose job security is tied to tournament appearances and wins? Plus, think of the environment. Bigger brackets mean more printer ink which means more ink cartridges in landfills. Do we really want to kill the earth because Virginia Tech didn’t want to play anybody out of conference?

Laugh at ASU.
I know, I know, this should be an integral part of every day. But it’s especially important in times of crisis. Belittling your rival won’t bring the NCAA tournament streak back but it will teach you to count your sports blessings.

Remember last year when the Sun Devils thought they had knocked us out of the tournament by beating us three times? Not only did the Cats get in but they also outlasted ASU by reaching the Sweet Sixteen. How sweet it was.

This year the Devils did contribute to the streak ending by winning in Tucson, but they can’t completely enjoy it because their own NCAA tournament “streak” ended at one.

Yes, ASU had the better season this year. But if I’ve been waiting two decades for my rival’s hall of fame coach to retire I would hope to do better than NIT/second round loss/NIT.

What about Delaware State?

"What about Delaware State?"
Arizona Republic file photo

The moral? If you schedule Arkansas-Pine Bluff they have a better chance of making the tournament than you do.

It also means another streak continues. The last time ASU participated in March Madness and Arizona did not? 1981. Better luck next decade, Sparky.

Bonus giggling:

Basketball Championships
in the Pac-10 Era

Stanford 4
Washington 3
Cal 1
Oregon 1

I did want the Cats to play in one of the JV tournaments if they couldn’t make the big dance. But you know what’s worse that missing the NIT? Getting a #1-seed in the NIT but having to open on the road in a 1,700-seat gym thanks to Cirque du Soleil. (No, I don’t feel bad for those guys either.)

I know it’s painful to have an NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship without Arizona. But don’t punish yourself even more by skipping the tournament entirely. It’s still the best sporting event this country has to offer. Fill out a bracket. Watch the games. See who cuts down the nets.

The Wildcats will advance again.