LOS ANGELES Finally, Carlon Brown can delete that ugly photo from his cell phone.
Colorado is going to the NCAA tournament, and there is nothing the tournament committee or anyone else can do about it.
The No. 6 seeded Buffaloes finished their roll through the Pac-12 tournament and gained a large measure of revenge froman 2011 NCAA tournament snub with a 53-51 victory over fourth-seeded Arizona at Staples Center in the Pac-12 championship game Saturday.
Colorado won four games in four days, celebrating their first season in the Pac-12 by earning the league's automatic bid to the 68-team NCAA field. California maybe the other Pac-12 team invited.
"If you believe in destiny, you believe in the Colorado Buffaloes, because it was meant to be for us," coach Tad Boyle said.
Destiny was 96 hours and 52 weeks coming.
The Buffaloes were so confident in their 2011 NCAA tournament resume that Boyle permitted reporters and camera crews to come to his Longmont home to film the festivities on selection Sunday last March 14.
Instead, they were left out and retreated to the basement to regroup. They had beaten Kansas State three times, including in the Big 12 tournament, and ranked teams Missouri and Texas in the regular season. Five Big 12 teams made it, including Kansas State. The Denver Post got pictures of the distraught, disbelieving Buffaloes after the selection process ended.
"It was a devastating blow. We definitely thought we were in," Brown said.
"It was the hardest day," Boyle said.
Brown took a phot of thePost picture witb his cell phone and said he looked at it from time to time this season, and Colorado's strength and conditioning coach pasted the picture on the wall of the Buffaloes' weight room after a particularly uninspired performance earlier this season.
"We used that as motivation, along with the preseason polls," Brown said.
The Buffs were chosen to finish 11th by the Pac-12 media in a preseason poll, part unfamiliarity, part the loss of their top four scorers from a 24-14 group.
But that was then. This was UConn revisited, the Huskies winning five games in five days to win the Big East tournament last year as a springboard to their national championship.
This is a dedication to the six seniors who suffered through that day in Boyle's house last year, all of whom Boyle texted at 1:30 am Sunday, a few hours after Colorado eliminated No. 2 seed California in the semifinals.
Brown, the tournament MVP, had 13 points, including a thunderous slam dunk that gave the Buffaloes a 53-47 lead with 52.6 seconds remaining, their only basket in the final nine minutes. It enabled them to weather a 10-possession stretch of one point, 0 for 11 shooting with four air balls, and a shot clock violation as Arizona (23-11) closed from 50-38 to 51-47 before Brown's slam.
"It was definitely a roller-coaster thrill ride, filled by a bunch of adrenaline. We thought anything was possible," said Brown, who redshirted last season after transferring from Utah.
"Connecticut did the same thing in a difference conference against different competition, but the premise is still the same win back-to-back-to-back-to-back games and go to the tournament. When you are in that last game, you think you have come too far to lose.
"To come so far and not win the tournament after what happened last year you just will yourself through it. Man, we all young."
It was a game to be expected from the top two defensive teams in the Pac-12. Colorado shot 38 percent from the field, Arizona shot 37. Colorado was 5 of 13 on threes. Arizona was 5 of 19, 0 of 7 in the second half.
Colorado's Andre Roberson had 10 points and 11 rebounds, making an all-tournament team that also included Arizona's Kyle Fogg, Solomon Hill and Jesse Perry. Fogg had 14 points, Hill 13 and Perry 11.
After Brown's dunk, Fogg made two free throws, Colorado forward Austin Dufault fumbled a pass out of bounds, and Hill made a short shot from the lane to make it 53-41. Dufault missed two free throws after being fouled with 14.4 seconds left, and Arizona brought the ball up with a chance to tie or win with a three.
The Wildcats ran a set play for Fogg, who had 14 points, but he was swarmed coming off a screen by Dufault and Nate Tomlinson and was forced to take awell-contested, off-balance 25-footer that did not draw iron.
So Colorado is in and Arizona is out of the NCAA field, with Cal and possibly Washington representing the Pac-12.
"We had a shot to win the game," Arizona coach Sean Miller.
No one could spoil Colorado's party this time. Follow Jack Magruder on Twitter