NCAA Tournament 2012: Saint Louis's March Madness Return A Major Success Despite Loss

Saint Louis couldn't quite upset the No. 1 Michigan State Spartans in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, their first trip to March Madness since 2000, but even with the postseason ending on an ugly note it's hard to call the Billikens' return to the bracket anything but an unmitigated success. Rick Majerus and company picked up their first win in tourney play since 1998, and they came within minutes—and a few shots—of upsetting the fifth-ranked team in the nation. They earned their first AP rank since 1994, while they were at it. If basketball at Lindell ever returns to the consistent success of the Charles Spoonhour era, they'll have this team to thank.

Next year doesn't look so bad, either. Losing senior Brian Conklin, an efficient forward, who led the team in scoring, will be tough, but junior Kwamain Mitchell's outstanding performance against Memphis in the Round of 64 promised impressive things to come, and sophomore Jordair Jett was strong in their Sunday loss.

With Majerus coming up to the last year of his original six-year contract, SLU hoops could be in for yet more transitions in the years to come. But they finally have some success to build on.

More SLU coverage, handpicked from SB Nation St. Louis:

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