It's ironic that the West Regional semifinals of the NCAA men's basketball tournament were right here in Salt Lake City on Thursday night and yet most Utahns didn't see them.

OK, so it's not so ironic.

This is what happens when you don't sell out arenas. And, as of Thursday morning, there were still a couple thousand unsold tickets for the games in EnergySolutions Arena.

It's not a formal blackout or anything. And — while this is being written before the telecast — we're guaranteed that CBS will keep us updated on the Butler-Syracuse and Kansas State-Xavier games at the ESA, while concentrating on East Regional finals.

And those games, ironically, are being played in Syracuse, N.Y.

Call me crazy, but I'm actually glad we get to see Cornell-Kentucky. And Washington-West Virginia is as interesting as anything in the West.

For a change, I'm not criticizing anybody here. Tickets for the games at the ESA were $171 for Thursday's doubleheader and Sunday's region final — which is a lot to pay, unless you have some sort of rooting interest.

And this was a long trip on short notice for fans of the four teams playing here — none of which were within 1,000 miles of Salt Lake City.

It's also hard to work up any anger toward CBS. It's not like we have to watch lousy games. (Again, pending the outcome.)

No matter how full (or, perhaps, empty) the ESA is on Saturday, we know we'll get to see that game.

So why worry?

WHO'S IN THE MWC? Last week, I attempted some humor at CBS's expense, pointing out that the network had incorrectly identified UNLV as the champions of the Mountain West Conference.

In actuality, the Rebels were neither the regular-season nor the postseason tournament champions (finishing tied for third and second, respectively).

I take it all back. Because the network provided something that was just so darn much funnier last weekend.

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At one point in CBS's coverage of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, viewers were told that St. Mary's was the champion of the Mountain West Conference tournament.

It's such an easy mistake. The Gaels won the West Coast Conference tournament. And West Coast Conference and Mountain West Conference sound so similar.

They both have "conference" in their name.

ON THE OTHER HAND: Maybe we should thank CBS for putting St. Mary's in the MWC. Because the Gaels are still playing.

Which is more than the Cougars, Lobos, Aztecs and Rebels can say.