The NCAA Tournament is as much about the little-guy programs as it is for the blue bloods who enter March Madness not hoping, but expecting, to compete for the national championship.

“One Shining Moment,’’ which has become a fabric of the NCAA Tournament, is as much about the one-and-done 16th seed as it is the champions cutting down the nets as the last team standing.

As the 2021 NCAA Tournament begins in earnest Friday in the Indianapolis COVID-19 bubble following Thursday night’s four play-in games, there isn’t a little-guy program more deserving of its one shining moment than the University of Hartford, which is making its first appearance in school history, 36 years after joining Division I.

“It’s historic for us,’’ Hartford coach John Gallagher said.

“Not everybody gets to be a part of March Madness,’’ Hartford grad-student guard Traci Carter said. “You want to do everything you can to be a part of it.’’

Hartford, which played in Division I during the 1984-85 season, has endured numerous teases in the form of multiple conference semifinal losses, along with advancing to the America East Tournament final last year only to have it canceled by COVID-19.