It always begins with the cold. New alumni trickling off the Purple Line "L," young parents carrying toddlers, white-haired die-hards docking old Cadillac boats in reserved parking: No matter who you are or how you get there, the first sensation of attending a Northwestern men's basketball game at Welsh-Ryan Arena is that bone-shattering North Shore Chicago cold.
This is true of most places during basketball season; they play the game inside for a reason. But nowhere in major college basketball does the futility and depression of winter seep so thoroughly into the gym itself.
That's the next part of the Welsh-Ryan experience, and it hits just as hard. Thing is, Wildcats fans know -- not gut-feeling know, but know know, because after all it is a provable historical fact -- that not only will the Wildcats lose, but they'll do so in a gym half-full with gleeful opposing fans.