Lowly Caltech celebrates Midnight Madness

When Dana O'Neil last checked in with the California Institute of Technology, the school she called "the Kentucky/Kansas/North Carolina/Duke/UCLA of academics," its Division III basketball team had lost 273 straight conference games.

These days, the streak stands at 297, but the Beavers celebrated anyway by putting off homework for a little while to stage their first Midnight Madness on Thursday.

At a school where its Nobel Prize winners are the big men on campus and the basketball players didn't all have high school playing experience, Madness was just pure bliss.

The 500-600 Caltech fans in attendance cheered when a couple players dunked off layup lines, and it was a fan who stole the show by sinking a half-court shot and getting more than high-fives out of it.

According to Bill Plaschke of the Los Angeles Times:

Madness, finally, was a half-court shooting contest in which the winner received an autographed basketball with the signatures of five Nobel Prize winners, all of whom teach at Caltech. It could only happen here. Fittingly, while they struggled to make free throws, one of the students sank the Nobel shot.

"I remember seeing a night like this when I was at Georgia Tech," said Jean-Lou Chameau, the school's president. "This, I'd say, is a little different."

A little different. A lot cooler.