Northwestern basketball coach Chris Collins waved off decades of futility by pumping both fists in the air to celebrate the Wildcats' first-ever invitation to the NCAA Basketball Tournament.
Until Northwestern turned up in the bracket - a No. 8 seed playing No. 9 Vanderbilt in the West Region - Collins alternately sat with arms folded, or his hands clasped, seemingly doing anything to keep from chewing off his fingertips.
A roar followed the selection, and then doubled in volume as the CBS selection show cameras showed the largely purple crowd of around 2,000 on their feet and stomping the old bleachers. Welsh-Ryan Arena, the Wildcats home gym, is slated for a floor-to-ceiling renovation beginning Monday.
There are some very excited Wildcats fans right now .
The West Region of the NCAA Tournament has a decidedly Western feel for a change.
Led by West Coast Conference champion Gonzaga and Pac-12 tournament winner Arizona, the top two teams in the West Region are actually from the Western part of the United States for the first time in 26 years.
With the Bulldogs (32-1) spending much of the year near the top of the polls and the Wildcats (30-4) part of a trip of highly rated Pac-12 teams with Oregon and UCLA, the selection committee didn't have to look far to find the top two seeds for the regional that will be decided in San Jose in two weeks.
This marks the first time since 1991 when UNLV and Arizona got the honors that the top two seeds in the West Region came from the West.
The No. 1 in West is Gonzaga, but it's the 8-9 game in Salt Lake City that has historical significance. Eighth-seeded Northwestern, in the NCAA tournament for the first time, will face Vanderbilt with first-year coach Bryce Drew.
No major conference team had waited as long as Northwestern for their first NCAA bid.
Arizona is the No. 2 in the West, and Florida State is the No. 3 seed. Interesting first-round matchup for the Seminoles in Orlando: Florida Gulf Coast. Dunk City is back in the NCAAs.
Gonzaga is a No. 1 seed for the second time in school history, and it comes with some memories - not all of them good.
Gonzaga will face No. 16 seed South Dakota State on Thursday in Salt Lake City. The other time the Bulldogs received a No. 1 seed was 2013. And they were sent to Salt Lake City. And they were upset in the round of 32 by Wichita State as the Shockers made a run to the Final Four. This time, the Bulldogs could end up facing tournament first-timer Northwestern in the second round.
This is a different Gonzaga squad led by West Coast Conference player of the year Nigel Williams-Goss. The Bulldogs have five players averaging in double figures scoring, but the question will be how they handle a close game. Aside from its loss to BYU, Gonzaga's only had one game decided by less than 10 points since Dec. 3.
Kansas missed out on a chance to get revenge on Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament when it lost to TCU on Friday.
The Jayhawks might get another crack at the Cyclones in the Sweet Sixteen.
As the No. 1 seed in the Midwest Region, Kansas will play in Kansas City - where Iowa State won the league tournament on Saturday - if it gets through the first two rounds.
The Cyclones, the fifth seed in the Midwest, beat Kansas in overtime in Lawrence in February and closed the regular season with nine wins out of 10. They'll have to get past Nevada and possibly Purdue for a trip to the regional semifinals.
Given how many Kansas and Iowa State fans annually make the three-hour trip to Kansas City for the Big 12 tournament, tickets could be a hot item if the Jayhawks and Cyclones get a chance to renew their rivalry at the Sprint Center.
North Carolina takes the top seed in the South. The Tar Heels won the ACC by two games, but were bounced from the conference tournament in the semifinals by Duke. The Tar Heels play Texas Southern in game one, with Arkansas or Seton Hall waiting in the second round in Greenville, South Carolina.
This is a region dripping with blue and championship history.
The second seed is Kentucky and No. 3 is UCLA. Along with North Carolina, those teams have 25 total championships.
Kentucky was still flying when the initial NCAA Tournament bracket was announced and probably didn't learn until landing that it was a No. 2 seed and matched against in-state neighbor and newcomer Northern Kentucky, No. 15 seed.
The No. 8 Wildcats were heading back to Lexington after beating Arkansas 82-65 for the Southeastern Conference Tournament title on Sunday in Nashville, Tennessee.
Coach John Calipari and players usually head to his house after returning to watch the Selection Show, but weren't back in time this year to discover they're headed to Indianapolis - at least, not in front of assembled media stationed in the coach's living room.
Little about the seeding or placement was a surprise, though Kentucky's run through the SEC had stoked talk radio and social media buzz about possibly earning a No. 1 seed.
- By Gary B. Graves reporting from Kentucky.
Kansas is the No. 1 seed in the Midwest and will play in Tulsa, Oklahoma, against the winner of North Carolina Central and UC Davis. Davis is making its first NCAA appearance ever.
The Jayhawks lost their Big 12 Tournament opener without suspended star Josh Jackson.
The second round in Tulsa could have a matchup of blue bloods with Kansas taking on Michigan State - IF the Spartans can get out of the 8-9 game against Miami.
Louisville is the No. 2 seed in the Midwest, and Oregon is the 3.
Defending national champion Villanova is the No. 1 overall seed, a top seed for the third time in school history. The Wildcats will begin defense of their title in Buffalo against the winner of the play-in game between Mount St. Mary's and New Orleans on Thursday night. In the second round, either Virginia Tech or Wisconsin awaits.
But lurking down the bracket: Duke is the No. 2 seed in the East.
Who will be the No. 1s? That's the big question as the NCAA committee gets set to reveal the tournament field of 68.
Duke's late surge to an Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament title has the Blue Devils in the conversation. The Blue Devils won four games in four days in New York, including victories against Louisville, North Carolina and Notre Dame.
Conventional wisdom has Villanova as a lock to be No. 1 overall. The experts have Kansas as a solid No. 1. Then it gets a little less certain.
Gonzaga has only one loss. North Carolina was the best team in the ACC during the regular season. Out in the Pac-12, Arizona seems to have the best case. And then there's Duke with eight losses. No top seed has ever lost that many games.
If there was any doubt about Michigan making the NCAA Tournament going into the week, it's completely gone now.
Michigan upset No. 24 Wisconsin 71-56 to win the Big Ten Tournament. After beating Illinois, No. 13 Purdue and Minnesota, the Wolverines already knew they were in but this victory helps their seeding even more.
The incredible run through the Big Ten Tournament came after Michigan's plane aborted takeoff and slid off the runway Wednesday night. No one was injured, but the team had to fly to D.C. Thursday morning and played its first game a couple of hours after landing.
Throughout the tournament, Michigan showed off its depth of offensive options from senior point guard Derrick Walton Jr. and swingman Zak Irvin to forwards D.J. Wilson and Moe Wagner.
Walton led eighth-seeded Michigan with 22 points Sunday and drew chants of "M-V-P" from the blue and gold-clad crowd as he stepped to the free throw line in the final moments.
As the buzzer sounded and teammates celebrated, Walton went down on one knee at midcourt and put his head on his hands.
Wisconsin, the second seed in the Big Ten Tournament, helped itself by reaching the final. Less so for top-seeded Purdue, which lost its opening game.
As the Big Ten and American Athletic Conference wrap up conference tournament championships, it is worth pointing out that the results of those games do not have much effect on the bracket. Michigan beat Wisconsin to win the Big Ten, but both of those teams were going to be in the field regardless. SMU is up big late on Cincinnati in the American final, but same goes for those teams. Both are in.
Even before those games tip the NCAA selection committee's work was all but done. At most, the results of those games could mean one seed line up or down. The committee cannot make major changes this late in the game, unless some team steals a bid.
College basketball teams across the United States are about to find out how impressive their seasons really were. And 68 teams will have a shot to prove they're even better, with a path toward winning the NCAA Tournament.
The Division I men's basketball committee is selecting 36 at-large teams that will make up the field with 32 conference champions, revealing their picks Sunday night through a national television special watched by millions of people.
Teams are holding watch parties at universities as they learn the six- or seven-game path they must navigate to win a title.
The tournament begins Tuesday night with two First Four games in Dayton, Ohio, and culminates with the national championship game in Phoenix on April 3.
© 2017 Associated Press