No. 12 North Dakota State was the kind of story that makes March better, the kind of team that we get almost every March -- yet we know each time each team is just a little bit different.
A double-digit seed that wins, wins in a fun way, and introduces itself to the nation after spending months -- years -- playing in obscurity, albeit with plenty of success and recognition at the local level.
We only see these teams for a flash, most times. They're like comets. But players and coaches can sometimes provide moments that will stick with them -- for the better -- long after their flirt with fame ends following heartbreak.
Because that's what this tournament does to you. It breaks you. It vaults you into the sky then slams you into the earth. And with that hurt comes this swirl of emotion and happiness and pride that often pours out of people at press conferences, on TV or in a locker room.
Bison coach Saul Phillips had himself an emotional moment on the dais Saturday night following his team's 63-44 loss to No. 4 San Diego State. After his seniors finished their press conference responsibilities, Phillips was asked, "What memories will you take from not only this season but this week?"
That's when this season and this run and its inevitable ending hit Phillips hard.
A good 20 seconds elapsed before he was able to put together a thought and an answer, all of it filtered by tears. This is a short but tremendous response. It's happy but sad. The video's ready to be played above. Here was Phililps' quote.
"It's only the greatest professional week of my life. I got to watch a group of guys that deserved it, who wanted it so bad, and made it a priority in their life and did everything I asked them to do. This season? Wow. Let's just say this: It's why I do what I do. And I lose the six guys out that door, Charles Barkley can make fun of me now, it's fine. Hey, I love these guys. Absolutely love them. Love 'em. I hope that comes close to answering it. Next question."
Before being defeated by the Aztecs, the Bison had themselves about 36 hours of the fantastic. Here, their locker-room celebration, and below that, a terrific shot/GIF of Phillips embracing NDSU's crowd in Spokane on Thursday night.
Thanks, Bison. I'm sure we'll see you again very soon, Saul.