It was like a sucker punch to the gut.
As the NCAA Selection Show rolled on Sunday afternoon, the Aggies anxiously awaited to see where they were going and who they would be playing. There was excitement as No. 23 Utah State - 17th in the USA Today/ESPN poll - expected a single-digit seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
Then, near the end of the show, the Aggies popped up on the screen. The oohs and a few ahhs quickly turned to disbelief. USU would be a 12 seed and face fifth-seeded Kansas State.
The night before, after winning the Western Athletic Conference Tournament to punch their ticket to the Big Dance, the Aggies talked about being able to wear their white uniforms. In order to do that, USU would have to be at least an eight seed to be the designated home team for the first game.
Sporting a 30-3 record and an RPI of 15 on Sunday, there was talk of possibly a six or seven seed. The highest seed USU has ever had was a 10. Then came the 12 seed.
There will be no white uniforms for the Aggies when they take on the No. 19 Wildcats (22-10), who are 23rd in the USA Today/ESPN poll.
"I was excited to wear white uniforms again," Aggie forward Tai Wesley said. "I thought that we would get a No. 8 or a No. 7 seed, or at least a No. 9 or a No. 10. I guess we will be back in the blue unis. We won't have to recover from anything. This just adds fuel to the fire to go prove them wrong."
That seems to be the rallying cry after the initial shock wore off.
"We are all a little disappointed," Aggie guard Tyler Newbold said. "All of the bracketologists thought we might have been a little higher, but they aren't on the committee either. We have to take this as it is. We can't change things now. We just have to go in and be ready to play. I think this disappointment is temporary. Tomorrow we will go to practice, and we will all be excited. It is the NCAA Tournament. We are all going to be ready to go. We are going to have fun and play our best."
So, will this low seed give USU more incentive?
"Anything that can motivate us a little more is good," Newbold said. "If that can help us be a little more on edge and be even more determined to do what it takes to get a victory, then great. We are going to do what we need to do and do it well."
Being a 12 seed is very familiar to the Aggies. They were in that spot in 1998, 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2010. In fact, the last NCAA Tournament win for USU came in 2001, against Ohio State.
"It is a familiar spot," Newbold said. "Over the years, lots of No. 12 seeds have beaten No. 5 seeds. So you have to not think of the seeding, but think of how we play as a team and that we can compete as a team. We know that."
Wesley was asked what he thought the Aggies needed to do to get a higher seed this year.
"We could have won three more games and gotten a No. 10 seed," Wesley quipped. "We are looking to win this game and then win another one. ... We're playing Kansas State; we are excited about that. They have kind of been up and down all year."
Wesley did not smile or grin after making the statement. He was visibly upset Sunday.
USU's 30 wins rank as the second-most in the country behind Kansas, San Diego State and Ohio State (with 32 apiece). Belmont, Duke, BYU and USU also have 30 wins.
The Aggies are one of just four teams in the nation with three or fewer losses along with San Diego State (32-2), Kansas (32-2) and Ohio State (32-2). USU's 30 wins ties a school record, matching the 2008-09 squad (30-5).
Scheduling was brought up during a press conference with Morrill following the NCAA Selection Show.
"There will be all of the critics with all of the answers, but when you understand scheduling, you are not getting those teams to play us," Morrill said. "I chuckled when Ohio State was the No. 1 seed because they had an opening that fit our schedule. I have known (head coach) Thad (Motta) a long time, and he just said, 'No, we aren't going to do that.' How are you supposed to play top-25, top-50 teams on the road and some of them won't play you? You are going to help your strength of schedule and hurt your RPI because you are going to lose. Nobody wants to hear that, but you are."
The Aggie coach said he is not going to feel bad. In fact, he used the word "refuse," when talking about letting comments get to him.
"We are going to try like heck, and we are excited to play," Morrill said. "There is nothing bad that can happen. Good things can happen, really good things."