Tradition has to start somewhere, and maybe, just maybe, Penn State's basketball program began that process at 6:21 p.m. Sunday.
"That was a special moment," Nittany Lion coach Ed DeChellis said.
TV cameras captured just how special when Penn State's name popped up -- as a surprisingly good 10 seed against seventh-seeded Temple -- during CBS' unveiling of the NCAA Tournament bracket.
The network cuts away to show teams celebrate when they see their name appear. More often than not, the players and coaches on those teams smile and laugh, albeit in a rather subdued fashion.
Most of those programs make frequent appearances in the Big Dance, so while they're thrilled to be selected, they have a been there, done that mentality that comes along with high expectations.
Penn State has no such expectations or history, having made the tournament only eight times and not since 2001.
Ready to dance
Teams: Penn State (19-14, 12-10 Big Ten, No. 10 seed West Regional) vs. Temple (25-7, 15-3 Atlantic 10, No. 7 seed)
When: Thursday, 2:10 p.m.
Where: McKale Center, Tucson, Ariz.
Noteworthy: In PSU's last tournament appearance in 2001, the Lions were eliminated by Temple in the Sweet 16. ... Temple went 14-2 in the A-10 during the regular season before losing to Richmond in the semifinals of the conference tourney. ... The Owls beat Georgetown (68-65) and won at Maryland (64-61). ... Temple's RPI is 30, PSU's 39.
Finally, the drought is over.
When CBS showed Penn State's reaction to getting in, you could just tell it meant more to the Lions than any of the other 67 teams in the field.
It took about a millisecond for the players and coaches to leap out of their seats in jubilation, sporting ear-to-ear smiles as they hugged everyone in the room.
We saw Talor Battle, still wearing his No. 12 jersey after finishing up the Big Ten title game less than an hour earlier. Let's be clear about this: Of the roughly 950 players about to compete in the NCAA Tournament, not a single one of them is happier to be there than the best player in Penn State history.
It would have been an incredible shame if Battle had gone his entire career and not made it to the NCAA Tournament. He has said repeatedly he would give back every one of his school-record 2,190 points for the opportunity to dance.
"There are some things in life you hope really work out, and this was one I was just praying for to work out," DeChellis said during a teleconference Sunday night.
DeChellis added that he never prays for wins, simply for his players to stay healthy and to compete. But he knows better than anyone how much Battle has done for the program and what it would mean for the senior guard to reach the tournament.
It's not just Battle, though. The PSU program has been built for success this season with three other senior starters -- Jeff Brooks, D.J. Jackson and Andrew Jones -- and this was a tournament-or-bust kind of year, especially considering how bad the dropoff will be next season.
Instead of letting this golden opportunity for success slip away -- which would have been crushing for the program -- Battle, his fellow seniors and sophomore guard Tim Frazier found a way.
That's really all there is to it. They just found a way, even if it wasn't pretty.
A Big Ten tourney win over Indiana (61-55) was sloppy, then the Lions and Wisconsin set college basketball back 50 years with a putrid 36-33 game in the quarterfinals. Saturday's victory over Michigan State (61-48) got PSU off the bubble, but no one knew just how far off until Sunday.
The first indicator that the NCAA selection committee was going to show the Big Ten some love came when Michigan got an 8 seed, after prognosticators had the Wolverines as a 10 or even 11. Shortly thereafter, PSU came up as a 10 seed, when most figured the Lions would be an 11 or 12.
"That didn't really shock me," DeChellis said. "Nothing shocks me with the NCAA Tournament and seeding."
Penn State now has to go cross-country to play an in-state rival, and DeChellis joked they should just hold the game in Harrisburg. The coach is concerned about the quick turnaround having to play Thursday, after his team just played four games in four days.
The Lions will take off today, then practice Tuesday and Wednesday. They haven't played a regular-season game against Temple since 2009, but the two squads did scrimmage each other during the preseason in November.
"What I took away from that was we needed to get better very, very quickly because I didn't think we played very well," DeChellis said. "I thought they were a stronger and tougher team, both mentally and physically."
That was a long time ago. Given what the Lions have been through lately, no one would question their mental toughness.
Penn State basically was on the bubble for the past three weeks, and aside from a bad home loss to Ohio State in the regular-season home finale, the Lions did what they needed to do to go dancing.
Critics, including yours truly, will now ease off DeChellis since he finally led the Lions to the tournament in his eighth season. His job is safe, and that job will now include building on this year's success and establishing a foundation for the future.
Cory Giger is the host of "Sports Central" from 4 to 6 p.m. daily on ESPN Radio 1430 WVAM. He can be reached at 949-7031 or email@example.com.