Golden Street

After the clock expires in the Super Bowl, the casual sports fan faces a greater challenge than Dwight’s attempt to act normal in “The Office.”

“What can hold my interest long enough until kickoff of the 2008 NFL season?”

Thankfully, we have college basketball.

With 341 division one clubs, everyone has at least one favorite team or conference. It doesn’t matter if you know how to calculate the RPI or understand the importance of non-conference wins. Even if your team goes 0-25 for the regular season, it still has a shot at the NCAA Tournament.

By winning four games in mid-March, a club can turn despair into hope in just 96 hours, thanks to an automatic bid won in a conference tournament that gives that team a chance to dance in the NCAA Tournament. Rarely do we see a low seed in a power conference beat up on the big boys to inspire a “Hoosier-like” run, but it’s magical to see a team break the mold during championship week.

They plant those wonderful seeds in late January and early February by sprinkling the basketball landscape with special matchups to provide a sorbet of that unmistakable feeling that lingers throughout March.

On Monday night, in a tiny arena in Moraga, California, St. Mary’s College and Gonzaga University played the best game of the year nobody saw.

Gonzaga, the leaders of the West Coast Conference and perennial NCAA Tournament darlings, strutted into McKeon Pavilion on Monday night with a spotless conference record. Seating only 3,500 fans in their home gym, St. Mary’s relied on their boisterous student section and pitch perfect passing to carry them past a tough Bulldog team in an 89-85 overtime win.

Getting a six-for-six shooting performance from three-point range, St. Mary’s guard Todd Golden gave many local sportscasters a chance to use whatever pun they could imagine. Golden looked like the kid in physics class who figured out how everything works in perfect rhythm to produce a desired result. Splashing in the game winning shot in the extra period, Golden sent a message to West Coast Conference enthusiasts and insomniacs watching the game on the east coast: It’s almost March.

Who’s ready for the Madness?

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