They call it March Madness for a reason.

It’s the month of the year when the best of the best college basketball teams vie for national championships. It takes on a life of its own. Fans come out of nowhere. Everyone’s an expert. Work stops while would-be pundits fill out their bracket for the NCAA tournaments. And the players become household names and colleges that do well can usually count on a boast in enrollment and most certainly more alumni support.

This year, the USC Aiken men’s basketball team joined the Elite Eight in the NCAA Division II tournament. That’s the top eight out of more than 260 D-II colleges. Not bad for a team that until two weeks ago wasn’t even ranked in the top 20.

Sadly, the Pacers lost last week to a strong Drury University out of Springfield, Mo. It was a tough loss, but the Pacers’ players and coaches were right hold their heads high. This scrappy team took the basketball program to new heights.

It took guts, determination, hard work, all thrown in with some outstanding talent to break into the top eight.

We couldn’t be any prouder of our men. Yes, there’s something about reaching such lofty levels with such enthusiasm and grace that tugs at our heartstrings and brings the larger community closer.

Hundreds of people turned out at the USCA Convocation Center on Thursday to watch the game with other fans. It was the next best thing to being in Louisville, Ky., to watch the game live.

USCA student Sedarien Dantzler, a roommate to two of the Pacers key players, took note of the enthusiasm.

“The (Southeast Regional) win was surreal. I feel like the whole city of Aiken was actually behind us. (If they win tonight), it would take things to another level,” Dantzler said that night at the Convocation Center.

It didn’t take another trophy for the season to make that happen. These men have put the program on the map.

And they’ve been a class act along the way.

Your hometown is proud of you. Congratulations, and enjoy your well-deserved break.

We’re already looking forward to next season.