Originally posted on Fox Sports Midwest  |  Last updated 3/22/13
KANSAS CITY, Mo. Don't stand around weeping for the Atlantic-10, kids. You just might end up getting punched in the mouth. "When I transferred from South Carolina, I didn't know how good the Atlantic-10 was," La Salle guard Ramon Galloway said after his 13th-seeded Explorers stunned fourth-seeded Kansas State, 63-61, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. "Playing in there for two years, it's a game every day. You've got to fight every day, every second, every moment." How good is the A-10? Six games so far in Bracketville. And, so far, six victories. The list of postseason victims includes more ballyhooed representatives from the ACC (North Carolina State) and the Big 12 (K-State). The league's two best teams, Saint Louis and Virginia Commonwealth, were widely tapped as sleeper Final Four picks and the Billikens and Rams looked every bit the part in their NCAA openers, winning by an average margin of 33 points. Hey, no wonder Temple, Butler and Xavier want the hell out. "The other thing I told them (on Selection Sunday)," Explorers coach John Giannini recalled, "because they felt bad about losing to Butler, Saint Louis, I told them, You're far better prepared for this tournament than you realize. You just lost to two potential Final Four teams. You're not going to play against anyone in this tournament that's tougher than Saint Louis or Butler." La Salle looked every bit battle-tested Friday, stunning a partisan-purple Wildcat crowd at Sprint Center by racing to a 24-9 lead, taking an 18-point lead into halftime, and then surviving a furious K-State comeback in the second period. The Explorers did it the way the Wildcats usually do it with defense. K-State was 0-for-8 from the floor over the final four minutes of the contest, including a contested, desperate behind-the-backboard jumper from point guard Angel Rodriguez along the baseline with two seconds left that effectively sealed the upset. K-State had just one field goal over the final 5:16, thanks in part to defensive adjustments on the ball-screens that had been chewing La Salle up in the second half. "I was matched up with their 4' man (Shane Southwell), and he faces the basketball a lot," Explorers guard D.J. Peterson explained. "He's 6-foot-6, I'm 6-5. We knew if we switched screens, that (it) was going to mess them up. So that's what we did." With that, La Salle officially joined the "BracketBusters" club, alongside Florida Gulf Coast, Oregon, Cal, Harvard and Ole Miss, the Explorers' surprising dance partner for Sunday's third-round matchup in Kansas City. For a few hours on Friday, La Salle in its first NCAA tourney since 1992 and a multi-game winner in the Dance for the first time since 1955 sat at the center of the hoops universe. Guard Tyreek Duren's smart phone sat beeping in his locker stall as congratulatory message after congratulatory message rolled in. "Right now, I'm at 86," Duren said, looking down at the phone. "Sometimes, I don't even get to read most of the messages. It's been like that the last week. After the two wins, after the one we got the other night, and after this game, it's been crazy." Following a victory over Boise State in a First Four matchup at Dayton on Wednesday, the Explorers got on a charter flight in southern Ohio at roughly 1 o' clock Thursday morning. The entourage landed in Kansas City at roughly 3 a.m. local time, and started breaking down K-State game film during lunch Thursday afternoon. "People (watching on) television might not really realize it, but people who actually played, we realize it, because it starts taking a toll on your body," Duren said. "And you start feeling it in the second half." Still, the Explorers managed to soldier through the fatigue, especially on the defensive end. With their small lineup and congenital chip-on-the-shoulder mentality, La Salle harkens back a bit to that Cinderella 2010-11 VCU team that rolled from the first round all the way to the Final Four. "We don't want to be the next anybody, we want to make a name for ourselves," Duren allowed. "We want to be La Salle we want to be that team that everybody doubted and nobody had hopes for. And we want to show everybody that we shouldn't have been playing in the play-in game." And, sure enough, one of the last teams in is one of the last teams still standing. The Explorers' 23 wins are the most for the program in a single campaign since the 1989-90 team went 30-2 a squad that included Wooden Award winner Lionel "The L-Train" Simmons at forward. Simmons, now 44, sat in a far corner of the La Salle locker room in a blue Phillies cap Friday, grinning from ear to ear like a proud uncle. "I'm sweating, I tell you," chuckled Simmons, who would later play seven seasons with the NBA's Sacramento Kings. "I'm just so happy for these guys, man. These guys worked hard these guys have a lot of confidence, a lot of Philly cockiness in them, which is good." "We think we could make a run," Peterson continued. "Because the conference we play in all year prepared us for this moment, right now." Which, if you're an A-10 fan, is the most bittersweet part of an otherwise stellar first tourney weekend. Butler and Xavier are departing in late June for the new, basketball-first Big East. Temple, meanwhile, is jumping for the football-first offshoot of what used to be the Big East. "It shows the A-10 is a great conference this year," Explorers guard Tyorne Garland said, "and I'm kind of mad they're breaking it up a little bit." And he's not alone, either. If this really is the final bow for the A-10 as we know it, it's not leaving college basketball's biggest stage without a few encores first. You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at seanmkeeler@gmail.com
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Gordon Hayward's agent indicates he's likely out for the season

Masahiro Tanaka joins Yankees legends with dominant Game 5 start

Willson Contreras admires his work after crushing 491-foot home run

Jeremy Lin to have knee injury evaluated amid ‘tremendous concern’

Bulls' Mirotic out 4-6 weeks, Portis suspended eight games

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Gordon Hayward to undergo surgery Wednesday night

Jim Harbaugh defends quarterbacks from blame for Michigan’s struggles

Gronk: Patriots told not to discuss Super Bowl LI this week

Vikings backup QB: Bridgewater looked normal in return to practice

Carmelo Anthony: Phil Jackson wanted 'to trade me for a bag of chips'

Tampa named official host of Super Bowl LV in 2021

NFL Week 7 Predictions

The 'Can I have a quick sword with you?' quiz

College football 2017 Week 8 predictions

NFL Referee Hotline Bling: Austin Seferian-Jenkins drops a call

Blackhawks get extra depth on defense with newbies Rutta and Forsling

The 'Old faces in new places' quiz

Nikola Jokic: A throwback superstar for the modern era

25 questions heading into the 2017-18 NBA season

The 'Sure do hope you have a backup plan in place' quiz

Tale of the Tape: National League Championship Series

Sports & Politics Intersect: White House looms large over sports world for another week

The 'A butcher, a Baker, a touchdown maker' quiz

College Basketball News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

NFL Week 7 Predictions

College football 2017 Week 8 predictions

The 'Can I have a quick sword with you?' quiz

NFL Referee Hotline Bling: Austin Seferian-Jenkins drops a call

Blackhawks get extra depth on defense with Rutta and Forsling

The 'Old faces in new places' quiz

25 questions heading into the 2017-18 NBA season

The 'Sure do hope you have a backup plan in place' quiz

Tale of the Tape: National League Championship Series

Sports & Politics Intersect: White House looms large over sports world for another week

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker