Winter (Fast) Break



College basketball without the college students? Pretty appealing actually. Not that climbing over shirtless frat boys or urging face-painted sorority sisters to actually turn toward where the game is being played isn't a charming bit of campus flava. But if groupthink of students shouting or dressed in unison doesn't add to your game experience, get thee to the court during winter break. Of course, you'll be missing the experience of standing for two full halves of basketball by students who measure their machismo by pogo-ing on their feet for two hours. If you want to sit your lazy ass down - now's the time to hit the gym.

Cal hosts the Golden Bear Classic Friday and Saturday at Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, and you get two games for the price of one. And two Bison (Bisons?) as well. Bucknell University and North Dakota State University, probably the only two major college teams who share a buffalo themed nickname, lock horns in the opening game. The winner gets the right to play the victor of the Cal game on Saturday.

The old joke is that a "classic" is a host and three teams that they can beat may be at risk, as the third invitee, Long Beach State, has crested as high as the NCAA tournament and will provide the Golden Bears some gnarly competition. Cal has been winning and hopes to pad its record this weekend, in a last tune-up before the Pac-10 opponents arrive with the college students who love them.