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The Big Preview: George Mason

In 2006, George Mason made a surprise run to the NCAA final four. This year's team is nowhere near that good and isn't likely to even make the tournament. They've won 2 games against solid teams in the past few days, so they aren't pushovers, but the Hoos are a more talented and veteran team.

Malcolm Brogdon should have his way with GMU's young backcourt.
Malcolm Brogdon should have his way with GMU's young backcourt.
Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports

If your only memory of George Mason basketball is from their 2006 final four run, then you are way out of date. Yes, the Patriots had some good teams during the mid-2000s, but they have fallen from those lofty heights since the departure of head coach Jim Larranaga. Larranaga's replacement was former Georgia Tech coach Paul Hewitt. Now he's gone and Dave Paulsen, formerly of Bucknell, has taken the helm. The past two years, Mason has finished a combined 20-42.

This year they are 2-2, having somehow lost to two bad teams and beaten two decent teams. On Friday night, they beat Oklahoma State 71-68 in OT to move to the final.

On paper, GMU shouldn't post much of a threat to the Hoos. They are a young team that doesn't shoot the ball particularly well from the outside, and they aren't very deep. That said, they profile similarly to George Washington, which is scary.

The Patriots' best player is big man Shevon Thompson, a JUCO transfer from Jamaica. Last year, he averaged over 11 rebounds per game and finished with the 2nd highest rebounding total in GMU history. He finished 5th in the nation in offensive rebounding rate and 12th in defensive rebounding rate. This year, he's 41st and 6th in those two categories. However, he's not a great offensive player as he can't shoot and he's a terrible foul shooter.

The main difference between GMU and GW is that GW is simply more talented than GMU, especially in the backcourt. While GW had a veteran backcourt, GMU's backcourt is largely made up of freshmen. They'll start 3 guards, two of whom are freshmen (Jaire Grayer and Otis Livingston). The other starter is Marquis Moore. Only Grayer is much of an outside shooter and he leads the team in scoring and FGA. Livingston is a quick pass-first PG who can almost get into the lane at will.

Marko Gujanic comes off the bench as a stretch 4, and we've seen the Hoos struggled with stretch 4s in the past. So he could see extra minutes for the Patriots.

The other main difference between this matchup and the GW game was that the Hoos faced GW on the road. This is a neutral site game, so the crowd shouldn't be a factor. Though this game will likely be closer than the past 2, the Hoos should prevail.