Now go prove it, Mountain West. The top-rated league in the country parlayed its stellar regular season into a conference-record five NCAA Tournament berths.
It is hard to tell which fact made skeptics more incredulous - that the league finished the regular season No. 1 in conference RPI, or that it earned five spots in the 68-team field, including Boise State's first-ever at-large berth.
As a result, no league faces more scrutiny over the next three weeks than the Mountain West. The tournament will be seen as a referendum on the ranking, the spots and the league's place in the college basketball landscape.
"Same story. We've got to have some success," Commissioner Craig Thompson told the Statesman on Tuesday.
The Mountain West, for all its basketball pedigree and success, has never had a team reach the Elite Eight, much less the Final Four.
Now in its 14th season, the league has only had four teams advance to the Sweet 16, despite getting multiple bids every season except 2001. The Mountain West is 15-33 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, including 1-4 last season.
"This is the best our league has ever been, from top to bottom. And it's one that hopefully, when NCAA Tournament time comes, will bear fruit along that line," said San Diego State coach Steve Fisher, whose team reached the Sweet 16 in 2011.
"I do believe that this is the best group of teams to have a team or two advance into the second round and somebody - somebody, it could be any one of several - to reach a Final Four. That's the next step for our league, and I think we've got the talent capable of doing it with a little bit of luck this year."
That belief did not pervade the selection committee.
New Mexico - the league's regular season and tournament champion - received a No. 3 seed in the West Region, despite being No. 2 in RPI, according to the NCAA's rankings.
"For years people would use the RPI," Thompson said. "... Now, some people I've seen, say the numbers have to be wrong. There's no way the Mountain West can be the top RPI conference."
Former NBA star Charles Barkley, serving as an NCAA analyst for Turner, touted the league as the nation's best on Selection Sunday.
But he's an outlier.
The more common reaction has been that the Mountain West must have gamed the system. The Big Lead, a prominent sports website, pointed to the league's 14 games against non-Division I competition as one reason for the league's lofty ranking. Those games don't count in the RPI rankings and, thus, don't hurt like games against the bottom of Division I.
The league, for all its credentials, feels like it has something to prove.
"You want to represent your conference and show them our conference belongs and that we do, and no doubt it adds to your motivation," Boise State coach Leon Rice said.
"Everybody's playing good teams right now. Anyone can get beat, and it doesn't reflect on whether you belong there or if your conference was seeded appropriately. It's not necessarily any pressure, but you just want to show what the Mountain West is all about."
The conference has another very good reason to root for deep runs - money. Each game a league member participates in is worth roughly $245,000, Thompson said.
The league is set to collect about $7 million in NCAA Tournament shares next year, roughly 20 percent of the league's expected distribution to schools next year. It includes money from the last six tournaments and that figure can only rise with better performances in the next three weeks.
"If we get into that five, six, seven (games) annually and four, five teams and a couple more wins," Thompson said, "that's going to be important as we started looking at future things."
A future that can start over the next three weeks. The league has positioned itself. Now the Mountain West must get it done on the sport's biggest stage.
Brian Murphy: 377-6444,Twitter: @MurphsTurph