There was an audible cheer coming from the Montlake as the final seconds ticked off of Stanford's 75-70 win over Cal at Maples Pavilion. With the Cardinal win, it meant that the Washington Huskies are the 2012 regular season conference champion.
The Huskies finished with a 14-4 record and play the winner of Wednesday's Washington State/Oregon State first-round match-up on Thursday at noon at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
It's just the second regular season title for the Huskies since 1953. Washington won the outright title in 2009 behind Jon Brockman, Quincy Pondexter and Isaiah Thomas.
Huskies head coach Lorenzo Romar watched the game at home with his wife, Leona. He admitted he got into it a little bit even yelling at the TV.
"Not too much though, I just tried to sit back and watch," he said. "But there were some sweaty palms moments."
While the Huskies didn't win the title outright yesterday in Los Angeles, the sense of accomplishment wasn't lost on Romar.
"It feels great," he said. "Over an 18-game stretch of tough conference to come out of it with a 14-4 record and be the outright champ is an accomplishment. It doesn't happen every year."
After a tough non-conference season that saw the Huskies struggle on the road and lose to South Dakota State, Romar couldn't have been more happy with the way his team gelled and came together during conference play.
"I'm extremely proud," he said. "We had a group that didn’t quite know the way. We lost four seniors from last year's team. Four seniors leaving who won as many games anyone else in the program's history. If you throw in Scott Suggs, who played a lot, that's five guys and our guys this year had to learn on their own. Our guys’ character has been so great. And now to see that they’ve been rewarded for sticking together and doing things the right way is just very gratifying."
Obviously, the final weekend didn't do much to help the Pac-12 perception. Colorado was swept on the road, Arizona got stunned by Arizona State in Tempe and the Huskies lost at UCLA.
In the modern era of the NCAA tournament, no team from a major conference which has won its regular season title has been denied a berth, even it doesn't win the conference tournament.
Romar can't see his team being the first. Going 14-4 in the Pac-12 - no matter what the league RPI rating says - makes his team tourney worthy.
"It would be hard for me to see how they could not take the league champion," he said.
But that doesn't mean his team will assume anything. Besides, they want to win the Pac-12 tournament and erase any doubts.
"I think you have to take the champion," Romar said. "But that's not how we are going to approach this tournament. We are going there to win it."
Here's how the Pac-12 tourney will set up ....
Game 1 – Oregon State vs. Washington State – noon (FSN)
Game 2 – UCLA vs. USC – 2:30 p.m. (FSN)
Game 3 – Stanford vs. Arizona State -- 6 p.m. (FSN)
Game 4 – Colorado vs. Utah, 8:30 – 8:30 p.m. (FSN)
Game 5 – OSU/WSU winner vs. Washington – noon (FSN)
Game 6 – UCLA/USC winner vs. Arizona – 2:30 p.m. (FSN)
Game 7 – Stanford/ASU winnver vs. Cal – 6 p.m. (FSN)
Game 8 – Colorado/Utah winner vs. Oregon – 8:30 p.m. (FSN)
Game 9 – Game 5 winner vs. Game 6 winner – 6 p.m. (FSN)
Game 10 – Game 7 winner vs. Game 8 winner – 8:30 p.m. (FSN)
Championship game -- 3 p.m. (CBS)