Shortly after the final horn sounds Monday and Tuesday and two new college basketball champions are crowned, one of the greatest traditions in sports will commence.
The tradition of cutting down the nets has its roots in the famed Indiana state high school tournament, the same event that provided the real-life story behind the movie "Hoosiers."
As far back as the 1920s, high school teams in Indiana celebrated championships by cutting down the nets. Everett Case, a coaching legend in the Hoosier state, was part of those ceremonies four times.
In 1947, as the head coach at North Carolina State, Case introduced net-cutting to college basketball. After his team won the Southern Conference title, Case wanted a souvenir. With no ladder available, the players hoisted Case onto their shoulders and he cut the net while cradled in their grasp.
The Bay Area hasn't had a men's team win the national championship since Cal beat Jerry West and West Virginia in 1959, and there was no net-cutting that time.
"We never did it," said Darrall Imhoff, the center on that Cal team. "That was an East Coast thing."
Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer has cut down a few nets in her time. Her teams have won 21 conference titles, two national championships and an Olympic gold medal.
"When we go into a gym where there is net-cutting involved," she said, "I tell our team right away: 'Look at those nets. Do whatever it takes to get those nets because that's what we're here for.' "
Visualization wasn't enough for former North Carolina State coach Jim Valvano; he preferred application.
According to a recent documentary, once a year, Valvano would conduct a practice with no basketballs -- nothing except scissors. His players would practice cutting down the nets. The Wolfpack put the preparation to good use in 1983 in beating Houston for the national title in one of the greatest upsets in tournament history.
VanDerveer won her first national championship with Stanford in 1990.
"To cut down those nets for a national championship was really special because you never know if you're ever going to get to do it again," VanDerveer said. "Your adrenaline is going for hours. I didn't sleep that night."
She did it again in 1992.
There's an etiquette to cutting the nets, explained the Warriors' Brandon Rush, whose Kansas team won the title in 2008. Each player takes one snippet, then gives way to the next player. Freshmen go first, seniors last and, finally, the head coach.
"I was nervous," Rush said of his turn atop the ladder. "There's a big spotlight on you, and I was fearing I might trip and people would laugh. It went well. I gave a little wave, stood there for a few seconds, then got down before I fell."
Rush gave his championship souvenir to his grandmother, who framed it and displays it at her home in Kansas City, Mo.
When Saint Mary's won its first WCC tournament in 2010, the Gaels had no idea how to proceed.
"No one was really sure what to do," coach Randy Bennett recalled. Not surprisingly, star center and larger-than-life personality Omar Samhan showed the way.
"Omar acted like he knew what he was doing," Bennett said. "I think Omar liked being on that ladder more than me. He was a little more comfortable with the spotlight."
The Gaels knew the drill by 2012, when they again won the WCC title. Bennett said he has the nets from that celebration. And 2010 nets?
"I think Omar might have one of them," he said.
VanDerveer usually hands them over to her seniors.
"I'm not a collector of stuff, " she said. "I have some little clips of nets -- I couldn't tell you where they are from — in my jewelry box."
One of the most famous net-cutting ceremonies took place in 1966, after Texas Western became the first team to win the NCAA championship with an all-black starting five. The Miners defeated Kentucky, but curiously were unable to locate a ladder.
"We laugh about it now: Whenever a team wins the title, there's always a ladder right there," said Nevil Shed, a starting forward for Texas Western. "But for us, there was nothing. No chair. No table. Nothing. You could look at that in a positive way" -- an innocent mistake -- "or the not-very-correct way."
The Miners were determined to mark the occasion in the traditional way. So Shed, 6-foot-8, hoisted guard Willie Worsley onto his shoulders, and Worsley began cutting. (The scene was captured in a photo that can be viewed off a Google search.).
"I don't remember anyone getting to keep a piece of it," Shed said. "At the time, we didn't think about the history behind the nets. We were just a bunch of kids.
"But now you look back, and those nets symbolized bridging the gap."
The tournament's surge in popularity beginning in the 1960s made net-cutting a bigger focal point of the postgame. The men's ceremony Monday in Atlanta's Georgia Dome will have few surprises. It will be a precise, organized affair dominated by the NCAA logo. Spontaneous celebration will give way to staged formality.
With CBS's carefully placed cameras capturing every move, the coach and players will climb an official, customized NCAA championship ladder to snip pieces of the net, using a pair of official NCAA scissors.
Still, it's the dream of every player and coach to be part of it.
"I just know it would be nice to cut 'em down on the last day," Bennett said. "That's the tough net to get."
Staff writer Elliott Almond contributed to this report.