SAN DIEGO (AP) - Now comes the important part for San Diego State - actually winning a game in the NCAA tournament.
There have been so many firsts during this breakout season for the Aztecs (32-2), who earned the No. 2 seed in the West region after winning the Mountain West Conference regular-season and tournament titles. They open against 15th-seeded Northern Colorado on Thursday in Tucson, Ariz.
For the excitement to continue, the Aztecs will need to get their first NCAA tournament win. They're winless in six previous trips to the NCAAs, including three under coach Steve Fisher.
"You want to be the first when it comes to stuff like that," said star senior point guard D.J. Gay.
Last year, the Aztecs lost by three points to Tennessee in the first round.
"That opportunity slipped away, but we've been fortunate to have another opportunity this year," Gay said.
This is the first time the Aztecs are in the NCAA tournament in consecutive seasons.
"You've just got to get the right group of players and coaches to buy-in on the game plan and just all believe, and I guess this is what's happening last year and this year," said sophomore forward Kawhi Leonard, who leads the Aztecs in scoring (15.4 points per game) and rebounding (10.7).
While that first win would be nice, the Aztecs don't plan on stopping there.
"Getting one win, that's not what we're looking at," said big man Brian Carlwell. "I think that's really setting our expectations low. We would like to get that, but we plan on playing six games. That's our goal. Play and win six games."
Fisher has plenty of NCAA tournament experience. He led Michigan to the national championship in 1989, and the Wolverines reached the title game again in 1992 and '93 with the Fab Five.
Fisher was asked at a news conference Monday about getting the monkey off the program's back.
"I don't know about 'monkey' or 'back.' I know we ain't never won a game, so that's our goal, is to win a game," Fisher said. "These kids don't care. Some of them are here going to their first tournament. Some of them to the second. None of them think too much about the past. They're worried about today, and so am I. We want to win a game. And we're going to be expected to win a game. So we'll just go in and compete hard and hopefully win a game, and then go from there."
There's a history between the Aztecs and the Bears, who won the Big Sky Conference tournament to clinch their first NCAA berth. Northern Colorado embarrassed the Aztecs 62-56 in San Diego in the 2007-08 season. The Aztecs won 73-62 at Northern Colorado the following season.
"They beat us up," Fisher said. "It's probably good for us that we had that experience. Not that our kids would not respect and be ready, but they firsthand saw how good this team is and how they competed."